Composition IV (1911)  by Wassily Kandinsky

Composition IV


Oil on canvas

62.8 × 98.6" (159.5 × 250.5 cm)

Dusseldorf. Germany. Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany


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Kandinsky’s comments:

Additional definition

1. Mass (Weights)
in the middle at the bottom – blue (providing cold tone to the whole)
on the right at the top – separated blue, red and yellow
on the left at the top – black interlacing lines of horses
on the right at the bottom – extended lines of lying figures

2. Contrasts
between mass and line
between precision and blur
between line interlacing and color interlacing, and
the main contrast between sharp abrupt movement (battle) and light cold delicate colors

3. Overlapping
of contours by colors.
Only all outlines of the castle are weakened by the sky flowing through its contour.

4. Two centers:
1. Line interlacing
2. A sharp shape modeled by blue
separated from each other by two vertical black lines (lances)

The whole composition is conceived as a very light one, with a great number of delicate tones which often flow into each other (resolution), yellow is also cold. The relation of the light, delicate and cold to the sharp movement (war) makes the main contrast in the picture. Here, in my opinion, this contrast is even stronger as compared to “Composition II” but it is also firmer (internally), more explicit; its advantage is a more accurate impression; the disadvantage is excessive obviousness of this accuracy.

The following elements form the basis:
1. The harmony of calm masses
2. Calm movement of certain parts, mainly to the right and upwards
3. Predominant sharp movement to the left and downwards
4. Contradiction inside both directions (small shapes move to the left inside the rightward movement, etc.)
5. Harmony of masses and simple lying lines
6. Contrast of blurred and contoured forms (i.e. line as just a line and as a contour which sounds like a line itself)
7. Overlapping of shape boundaries by colors
8. Predominance of the sound of colors over the sound of shapes
9. Resolutions

1911 March

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Logan, US

15 September 2014
One low budget video games can look 100 times better than this. Everybody thinks that art is so emotional, but flappybird causes more emotion than this.

ken, Earth

17 February 2014
from TATE website:

"Display caption
Kandinsky believed that abstract paintings could convey spiritual and emotional values simply through the arrangement of colours and lines. Cossacks was made during a transitional period, when he retained some representational elements, such as the two Russian cavalrymen in tall orange hats in the foreground of the painting. Kandinsky considered these as points at which the images could be registered, rather than the true content of the painting."


BOB, Wonderland

16 February 2014
OMG! someone explain what the painting means?

pizza, loco

27 November 2013
I love it... beautiful


14 June 2013
Very abstract indeed

lindy, timbuktu

13 June 2013
very beautiful painting oh yes.

Niall Horan, Mullingar wey hey

27 May 2013
This picture makes me feel awesome. XD

Jdifso, Finland

25 February 2013

Charlotte, Frasnce

05 October 2012
I love this pic i wamma marry it

Hi, By

01 June 2012

N/A, N/A

01 June 2012
Great pic looks nice and all but what... is it?

?, ?

01 June 2012
THIS MAKES NO SENSE, but it looks pretty nice anyway... I just don't see the picture.

kiu, houston

22 February 2012

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