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Black and Violet (1923)  by Wassily Kandinsky

Black and Violet

1923

Geometric abstraction

Oil on canvas

30.6 × 39.5" (77.8 × 100.4 cm)

Private collection

The Black and Violet painting ranges among the artist’s most important works resulting from a wonderful combination of circumstances, which can occur only a few times in a lifetime, even with creative artists of such calibre. Those components were the time, place and environment. Revival of all types of arts after the First World War and the growing interest in abstract painting provided a favorable climate. The Bauhaus school, the most advanced center for theoretical and practical surveys in Europe at the moment, was a fertile ground for new ideas. And the inspiring company of colleagues – Kandinsky worked with such artists as Albers, Bayer, Breyer, Feininger, Gropius, Itten, Klee, Moholy-Nagy, Muche, Schlemmer, Schreyer and others – became a great creative catalyst.

The titles of that period’s pictures usually reflect the dominating form or color, or a combination of both. Protecting the abstractness of his works, the artist did his best to avoid using words in their titles that could imply objects or meanings.

“Nevertheless”, writes Grohmann, the artist’s contemporary, a German art critic, “it can be assumed that the spontaneously aborning forms emerged at the back of mind where the image and the idea are interlinked.” That way, according to him, a painting like the Black and Violet must certainly have allusions to reality, even if vague, and although the images have the form of ciphers encoded in geometrical terms, focused attention and good imagination can lift the veil.

The subject matter of the Black and Violet painting is determined by two large dominating forms of corresponding colors and their accompanying forms. There are the two sailboats plowing through the calm water on the right, and the sinister black cloud of the approaching storm on the left (or the darkening world during a solar eclipse?), which has already drawn up with the third one whose mast is topped with the Russian flag. Such an interpretation may well be read as an illustrated history of the Kandinskys’ departure from Russia.

Sold 5 November 2013 at Christie's auction in New York for $ 12.6 million.

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8 comments

11 November 2018
Zeke: It has to do with sailboats, as you can see there are three of them. Of course that's just a theory
24 October 2015
Maria: I'm doing a work about this painting.
Can someone help me with the critical opinion about black and violet of Wassily Kandinsky?
I need help! PLEASE!!
05 June 2015
Joe Dixon from Horsham, England: This painting is brilliant, he seems to have found a way to combine vibrant colours with dull ones and still look good
07 May 2012
letiha from orbost: what is this paintings medium??
25 March 2012
kevin from india: can some one please tell me about this black and white painting like the concepts..?..thank u
13 December 2011
louise from chichester: i agree victor. you are so smart and brilliant. marry me
13 December 2011
victor from oldham: like it. looks like a gladiator being stabbed in the eye by a dart thrown by a brown horse
19 June 2010
tati from sydney: hello, someone can tell me the critcal opinion about black and violet of Wassily Kandinsky??? please

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