Swiss-born Johannes Itten was a pupil of the influential painter and theorist Adolf Hölzel (1853-1934), who turned away from naturalism to an entirely two-dimensional conception of painting and developed an advanced color theory, making his own non-objective paintings in 1910. Itten was gifted in science and mathematics, and, like his fellow- countryman Paul Klee, was deeply interested in the relevance of musical structures to painting. He shared with Kandinsky a fascination with Theosophy and occult literature.
Itten made his first non-figurative painting in 1915, and in 1916 made color disk paintings influenced by Hölzel's color wheels and Delaunay's Disques. The present work is directly descended from Delaunay's Fenêtres series of 1912, and may also have been influenced by the two Farbiges Formen pictures Marc painted in 1913, as well as the color-square paintings which Paul Klee made as early as 1915.
Itten joined the newly-formed Bauhaus teaching staff in 1919, and introduced the preliminary course which was required for all students. Throughout his career he pursued research into the psychology of color, and in 1961 published his important Kunst der Farbe.
In a letter dated April 28, 1981, Anneliese Itten has confirmed the authenticity of this drawing.