25 June 2008
Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)
oil on canvas
4 3/8 x 7 in. (11 x 17.6 cm.)
Painted in 1906
Nina Kandinsky, Paris, by descent from the artist.
Philippe Sers, Paris, by whom acquired from the above in 1972; his sale, Sotheby's, London, 7 December 1983, lot 151.
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V. Endicott Barnett, Kandinsky Watercolors, Catalogue Raisonné, vol. I, 1900-1921, London, 1992, no. 22 (illustrated p. 59).
Tokyo, Fuji Television Gallery, Wassily Kandinsky, April 1989 (illustrated).
Abandoning a promising legal career in Moscow at the age of 30, Kandinsky travelled to Munich to study painting. From 1903 and for the next five years he travelled widely throughout Russia, North Africa and Europe, arriving in Rapallo on Italy's North West coast in December 1905 and staying until April 1906. This stay heralded a shift in Kandinsky's aesthetic as he explored the pictorial possibilities of the landscape around him. Working primarily in oil and often in small format, Kandinsky worked to capture the atmosphere and ambience of the port and seascapes he saw from the harbour. Kandinsky's use of the palette knife to apply his paint in thickly worked and textured strokes infuses his paintings with an expressive weight of colour that, in its immediacy and simplicity, seems to be on the point of breaking down his rigorously constructed composition, anticipating the artist's move towards abstraction. This period heralded a shift in Kandinsky's aesthetic and represents an important period of transition for the artist which culminated in 1908 with his move to Murnau and the creation of his first great breakthrough paintings that marked his emergence as an important figure among the international avant-garde.
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