Monday, November 2, 2009

Guggenheim+ Kandinsky

Saturday was a perfect fall day in New York. The city was bustling with anticipation for the Marathon and enthusiasm for game three of the World Series. Little princesses and superheroes bobbed up and down the streets toting candy-filled pumpkins and cheerfully chiming "trick-or-treat!" We enjoyed a leisurely walk through Central Park, making our way to the Guggenheim for the Kandinsky show.

Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky, born in Moscow - December 1866, was a Russian painter and art theorist.

Enrolled at the University of Moscow, he chose to study law and economics. I was most interested to know that although he was quite successful professionally, at the age of 30 he left his career in law to pursue painting.

I thought it also quite interesting how many monumental world events shaped his career and work. For example, he left Moscow to begin studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, however had to return once World War I started. Additionally, he began teaching at the Bauhaus School of Art until it was closed by the Nazis. As a result he moved to France where he became a citizen and spent the rest of his life. France was a new and relaxing culture for Kandinsky which is dramatically reflected in his work. Muted tones make significant appearance in his paintings, much different than the explosive colors earlier in his career.

In addition to the main gallery the there was an impressive showcase of a number of Kandinsky's watercolors and preliminary drawings. Although Kandinsky's paintings are seemingly unconscious and sporadic, the preliminary drawings and blueprints show his paintings were often carefully planned and executed.
Sketch for Composition II
Composition II

One of my favorite works of the show was The Blue Mountain (above).
Kandinsky’s use of the horse-and-rider motif symbolized his crusade against conventional aesthetic values and his dream of a better, more spiritual future through the transformative powers of art. In 1909, the year he completed Blue Mountain, Kandinsky painted no less than seven other canvases with images of riders.

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