Watercolor for Poul Bjerre (1916)  by Wassily Kandinsky

Watercolor for Poul Bjerre


Watercolor and Indian ink on paper

9.1 × 13.4" (23.0 × 34.0 cm)


This expressive watercolor, associated with the ‘fairytale’ “Bagatelles” series, was a gift to psychiatrist Poul Bjerre, which had helped Kandinsky very much presenting his works to Swedish viewers.

Depiction of certain people was not typical for the artist, and this work is one of the few. We see Doctor Poul Bjerre standing under the tree and looking some bird over, and artist Ernst Norlind on horseback, with the brightly colored landscape as a background, reminding of the early ‘folklore’ works by the artist. Surely, Kandinsky could not fail but fill these images, connecting the fairytale and the real, with meaning. Art critics have several interpretations of the painting, but it seems that Poul Bjerre did that best of all on the back of the picture: “The bird that I am staring at so intently should be interpreted psychoanalytically as a man picking at himself. The lake could be any lake and the house could be any house. But one should note that Mrs Münter whom Kandinsky visited was at our country farm in September of the year before. It is perhaps our special lake that you see and fields and woods with firs and such as you see from a train window.

The round jam cake is the midnight sun and the curved rays are the northern lights - one supposes. On the left is Kölen and the other high mountains on the border with Norway. This is simple. But what is meant by the big sugarloaf-like flaming thing which is the immediate goal of Norlind's hunt? On this point the interpreters have very different opinions. Some are reminded of a tunnel; others of a symbolic road that goes upwards over the mountains to the sky." (P. Bjerre, quoted in V. E. Barnett, op. cit., pp. 41-2).

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