Sharp in Blunt (1929)  by Wassily Kandinsky

Sharp in Blunt


Oil on board

19.3 × 19.3" (49.0 × 49.0 cm)


It’s always necessary to start from the name of a painting for the right perception of Kandinsky’s works (and not only his). The matter is that the artist, when characterizing abstract forms, often uses not quite geometrical terms. Thus, he offers a certain conflict to the viewer at once, one can say that he puts the viewer in a dialectical frame of mind to understand his art better. The black sharp-pointed form in this work is inside the dirty-grey misty environment, which the German word ‘dumpf’ can more subtly describe as ‘stifling’, ‘depressing’.

References to the reality are often present in Kandinsky’s abstract works. For example, the massive black mountain with three peaks in this picture reminds us of the Murnau landscapes, which Kandinsky painted in 1908-1909. We remind you that in the years preceding World War I, when the artist was on the threshold of opening abstraction, he often used the ‘Bavarian’ period motives to transform them into symbolic semi-abstract forms.

The picture is full of the noir aesthetics: dusty-smoky sky, dirty-violet full moon. Possibly, the artist thought of presenting something sinister, similar to his early apocalyptic works. In this case, light-colored squares and rectangles may perfectly symbolize the bright dawn, like the lights of hope in the dark.

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