Circles in a Circle (1923)  by Wassily Kandinsky

Circles in a Circle


Geometric abstraction

Oil on canvas

38.9 × 37.6" (98.7 × 95.6 cm)

Philadelphia. Philadelphia Museum of Art

“Circles in a Circle” is a compact and closed composition. Kandinsky began a thoughtful study of the circle as an artistic unit starting from this painting. In his letter to Galka Scheyer he wrote, “it is the first picture of mine to bring the theme of circles to the foreground.” The outer black circle, as if the second frame for a picture, encourages us to focus on the interaction between the inside circles, and two intersecting diagonal stripes enhance the effect, adding a perspective to the composition.

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27 September 2023
Manuela: As artes são bem inspiradoras, não sou muito fã de círculos e artes abstratas, mas a composição de cores é bem dinâmica.
18 August 2023
VAL: pintura confortante gosto de circulos e das cores
21 March 2022
Sharon: This would be a fun painting and lesson to use on Pi Day!
21 November 2019
Anon: How do you describe this abomination of lines and circles?
13 October 2019
Kitty Wu: Why and how did this artist used oil on a canvas to create Circles in a Circle?
02 October 2019
Christopher Nelson: I have an 8'x 10' Rug that looks like a simpler version of this Kandinsky painting. I need more info about RUG repro's .
18 May 2018
Crazyman: Kandinsky is a good painter
18 May 2018
Crazyman: Favorite painting
28 August 2017
someone: this artwork represents the start of the earth big bang with balls representing planets in the future truely a artpeice
21 March 2017
Charis Wrieden from Essex: This is a great composition
18 November 2015
Hayley Steindorf from New Windsor : This painting is my favorite.
23 January 2015
Penny Martin from UK: Taken from the Philadelphia Museum of Art about this piece

"Circles in a Circle demonstrates Kandinsky's distinctive style from the early 1920s, when he began teaching at the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany, and subsequently moved away from a spontaneous painting style to a geometric composition. In this work, a thick black circle surrounds twenty-six overlapping circles of varying sizes and colors, many of them intersected by straight black lines. Two strobes of blue and yellow extending from the top corners cross toward the center of the piece, changing the colors of the circles where they overlap. Although Circles in a Circle is distinctly different from Kandinsky's paintings of the beginning years of the twentieth century, it reflects his continued belief that certain colors and shapes signify emotions that can be codified and combined into a whole, reflecting the harmony of the cosmos. For Kandinsky, the circle, the most elementary of forms, had symbolic, cosmic significance. He wrote that "the circle is the synthesis of the greatest oppositions. It combines the concentric and the excentric in a single form, and in balance."1 In a letter of 1931, he described Circles in a Circle as "the first picture of mine to bring the theme of circles to the foreground."2 Emily Hage, from Masterpieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Impressionism and Modern Art (2007), p. 136.

1) Kandinsky, as translated in Will Grohmann, Wassily Kandinksy: Life and Work, trans. Norbert Guterman (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1958), p. 188.
2) Kandinsky to Galka Scheyer, Dessau, May 9, 1931, as translated in Amy Baker Sandback, "Blue Hights Drive," Artforum 28, no. 7 (March 1990), p. 127."
22 April 2014
Hayley from New Windsor: Circles in a circle starred in Little einsteins The wild goose chase.
05 March 2014
bankhu from india: more information lady or man
12 November 2013
Sikh from fund: what did he use to paint this I need this info now
06 March 2013
Jonathan from Washington: What a wonderful painting! I will use it in my artist report.
06 March 2013
Emily from New York: Where are the steps to draw the painting?!
Please add more! :)
22 May 2012
Jim from London: If you like this, you can see it for real until 12th August as part of the Bauhaus exhibition at the Barbican, London.
24 February 2012
Neeha from Monaghan: The painting is brilliant i like
i like all of them.
24 October 2011
wwwwwwwwww from wwwwwwww: There is barely any information on it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! much much much more information is needed please!!!!!!!!!!!
27 March 2011
Diana from West Des Moines, Iowa: I teach in an Art Center, young children, drawing and painting, and I am always trying to find different ways to teach painting, spinning off from the "Masters", yet interesting enough to capture them. This is a great painting which I plan to use---do you have other ideas useful for children's art.
20 September 2010
ashley from lusaka: please give me more information about the painting kandisky did named circle in a circle

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