“Verses without words”


“Verses without words”

“Verses without words” (1903) is a portfolio of 16 woodcuts. It was issued for the first time in Russia on the dark cardboard sheets sized 32,9 х 24,9 cm.

In this portfolio becomes obvious the influence of modernists and symbolists tendencies of the“Art world” association, developing the idea of painter’s self-expression through his works, rather than a simple reflection of reality. For example, in graphics symbolism was seen in frequent use of silhouettes, outlining and contour lines: in color works its conventionality and decorativeness were underlined.

Conceptually this work refers us to the idea of synesthesia in art, the essence of which is in interpenetration of pictorial, poetical and musical origins. Later Kandinsky develops these ideas in his works and writes about this in his theoretical works. Synesthesia conception will serve as nourishment for the ideas, from which the main root of the painter will grow, namely abstraction.

Here is a comment written on the web-site of the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA): “In the portfolio “Verses without words” Vasily Kandinsky leaves the modern world and all its distractions and sails away on Viking ships and down the Rhine to a fairy-tale world filled with gallant mounted riders, elegant ladies, peaceful landscapes, and onion-domed churches. Frustrated with his attempts at writing poetry in German, Kandinsky used these woodcuts to give shape to the nostalgia for his Russian homeland that he found impossible to put into words. As he explained to his companion, painter Gabriele M?nter, "I must do them, for I cannot rid myself of my thoughts (or possibly dreams) any other way." For Kandinsky the woodcut with its simplifying imagery, decorative patterns and concentration on the essential was akin to lyric poetry.

The imagery in these prints was central to the symbolic vocabulary that appeared throughout Kandinsky's early work. Five of the woodcuts repeat previous compositions, and Kandinsky returned to five others in later prints and paintings. For the first time here in “Verses without words” Kandinsky used the horse and rider motif, his symbol of a warrior for new art”.

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