Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I realize I'm missing a Kandinsky show in New York right now at the Guggenheim. Have you seen it? (This link will take you to a 5 minute, very interesting video put together by the museum to explain his working methods, themes, etc. Do not be distracted by the curator's hair - she is quite impressive.) It seems like Kandinsky is popping up all over the place, even in Tuesday's Science page of the NY Times with these marvelous circles:

Doesn't it seem like these blurred out edges are crucial to the rightness of the painting? Makes the circles appear to be weightless, perhaps. He prepared to be a lawyer, but after seeing an exhibit of Monet's work, he decided to turn to art. How often has that happened? Apparently Kandinsky moved through a number of styles in his career.

According to Dr. Robert Belton, writing in his survey, Art, Kandinsky's move toward abstraction was hastened after a singular incident. He returned to his studio one evening, and was "enchanted by a picture he did not recognize. It turned out to be one of his own paintings lying on its side. Kandinsky immediately realized that subject matter lessened the impact of his pictures. . ." Many of his works were greatly planned, and X-rays reveal grid patterns on the canvas along with notations in German as to colors to use in various portions of the painting. Curators have noted that he sometimes departed from his plans.

I think Impression II (below) is just fabulous - so full of movemen
t and so spontaneous looking. I didn't realize that Kandinsky had studied the cello and was an amateur chamber musician. He painted this in 1911 two days after attending a New Year's concert of Schoenberg's music in Munich.

Apparently some preparatory sketches reveal that the large black sha
pe suggests a grand piano. The diagonal compositional scheme is interesting and contributes to the sense of motion. The music he heard would have been atonal; no doubt he is trying to capture a sense of what was heard that night. If a painting can look loud, this is it. What do you think of it?

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