Sounds by Kandinsky
Sounds (Klange) was published in Munich in 1912 and is one of the most famous examples of an “artist’s book" ("livre d’artiste"). This work which Kandinsky himself called “a music album” consists of 56 Expressionist woodcuts and 38 prose-poems. The woodcuts were created between 1907 and 1912 while the poems were written in 1909-1911. The artist said that the choice of the book format arose from the “internal necessity” which seems to have inspired and guided him in his further search of art synthesis.
The texts in the book resemble Dadaist poems, though Kandinsky also employs an interesting technique borrowed from children’s early attempts to speak: constant repetition deprives a word of its meaning and only the pure sound remains which makes “the soul vibrate”.
Sounds is one of Kandinsky’s three publications which appeared before World War I. Unfortunately, Reinhard Piper, the publisher, was afraid of poor sales and was rather reluctant to publish the edition. Thus, less than 120 copies were issued over two years. The planned Russian edition fell through. Nevertheless, European and Russian Avantgardists, Dadaists and Futurists read the book and it had certain impact upon development of art in the pre-war period.
Hans Arp who was considered one of the founders of the Dada movement wrote the following in his review of the Sounds: “Kandinsky has showed the rarest spiritual experiments in these poems. Out of ‘pure existence’ he has derived the beauty never previously heard in this world. This is what has never happened to words and sentences before…”