Composition VIII (1923)  by Wassily Kandinsky

Composition VIII


Geometric abstraction

Oil on canvas

55.1 × 79.1" (140.0 × 201.0 cm)

New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

The audience was quite shocked by the transition from the apocalyptic emotion of Composition VII to the geometric rhythm of Composition VIII. “Composition VIII” was painted ten years later in 1923. It is a logical development of the creative genius of the painter and to a certain extent it reflects the influence of Suprematism and Constructivism assimilated by Kandinsky in Russia and in the Bauhaus.

In 1926, the most important theoretical work of the painter “Point and Line to Plane” was published. Of course, most of the painter’s canvases of this period are the practical expression of his theoretical ideals. However, this is not a literal implementation, but rather intuitive and poetic interpretation. Kandinsky as a writer was consistent and methodical, but when working on the canvas with figures and colours he was becoming sensual and impulsive. And, of course, he hoped that the audience would perceive his work emotionally, too.

Kandinsky aimed to formulate an abstract language which would cause strong emotions in the audience to a large extent the same way as it does the music. “Form itself, even if completely abstract ... has its own inner sound,” he wrote. Kandinsky was looking for a universal law of harmony in the visual arts, which must be present in the center of each creation, and this mystical belief was being reinforced by a convincing inner strength of the painter.

Composition VIII was one of the first paintings which were bought by Solomon R. Guggenheim. In 1930 Guggenheim visited Bauhaus where he bought several paintings of Kandinsky. It was the beginning of a large collection which is now exhibited in the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

More from 1923

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04 March 2023
Kai Simanowski : I have a print of Composition VIII in my living room, looking at it every day. Every day I discovered something “new” in it. In my opinion there is a solar eclipse going on in the background over three mountaintops. While watching the eclipse there is music playing/visualized in rhythms, color and rhythm. The rythm (or tact) is visually depicted with a clock near the middle of the painting. Floating around it are lines, curves and various shapes forming the tune or melody. If this is true, then it is unclear to me if the notes are coming out of the clock, flying around it or just passing by…
03 September 2022
chloe from philippines: i wish to be like this artist, creating wonderful artworks with spiritual inspirations!
29 March 2022
Country Music Artist Steve Zuwala: I found your blog while searching for Blues music. Love your blog! Continued success!
06 November 2021
???: An amazing work ? Recently I am interested in paintings, and it is one of the most awesome works I have seen!
13 July 2021
Josh: I highly recommend listening to 1920's jazz music while looking at this piece. You san see the painting with a bigger perspective.
18 May 2021
jeremy: To me this art is kinda dumb and useless in my opion.
17 April 2021
TheBruce in USA: I am a big fan of this painting! I hung a framed 2-ft by 3-ft print in our music room, although I was originally unaware of the artist’s conception of musicality. Now, I can sense that aspect in the painting. Additionally, it is, to me, a representation of the universe after the Big Bang, with matter and energy expanding into to the cold void of space-time under the well-defined physical laws of Nature.
29 November 2020
Missy: Hello from Wisconsin, USA..
I am studying graphic design from Rasmussen College in Rockford Illinois.
I enjoyed reading everyone's input on this piece. I am just scratching the surface regarding Art history and art as a whole. I have never truly researched the History of many art pieces. I am starting to understand their meaning! Fun
05 September 2020
Bradford McCormick: Comment says: "My 8 year old draws art work like this when he gets really angry"? I would paint Composition VIII if I was who I wish I was and I was happy. Maybe WK's cat helped him paint it? May I note: There is a book from about the same time (1928-31) I would have written if I was who I wish I was: "The Sleepwalkers" by Hermann Broch (I knew Broch's son).
30 May 2020
Syed Shams Naqvi: My 8 year old draws art work like this when he gets really angry.
27 January 2019
admin: Tom, did you mean this painting?
27 January 2019
tom: Excellent website but couldn't find the 1927 painting 'Spitze in Bogen' or any info about its whereabouts..
17 August 2018
Marcquis1000: To Sarah, I am in awe of color and interplay between colors and geometric forms which can evoke a complicated ballet of tonal moods/feelings as combined here in Composition VIII, grid-like design.

17 August 2018
Marcquis1000: Liked this answer. I’m going to review/interpret. Thxs. Art is beautiful.
02 April 2018
anastasia: The circles and triangles are the brass instruments, the lines are string instruments, the curves and strokes are the wind instruments and colours are the piano. Warmer tones are higher pitches and the cooler tones are lower pitches. His compositions allow you to imagine symphony of the piece.
03 March 2018
Sedat Uyar Denver,CO USA: I like all the works.
05 November 2017
Sarah: Why? I have to study this artist for my GCSE art class and I hate it. Abstract has to be one of the most annoying types of work there is. OK, I can hear the music when I look at it but that defies the point of art which is to stimulate you visually. Please can anyone suggest another of Kandinsky's work which has more..........visual impact. (btw, this is no hate just my opinion)
14 May 2017
VB: This is a good website for kids to learn I have to say myself
14 April 2017
Andrew: Of all his paintings this one is my favorite so far. I can see few different landscapes merged into on. Stars and planets, mountains, birds, industrial city. Positive and dynamic.
14 October 2016
Christian from California, USA: The only painting I have ever known in the abstract genre. Amazing work.
23 June 2016
jack parker from sta august: im bumming over this art work its amazing
24 April 2015
Pepe from UK: Es, muy, muy fenomenal!
17 December 2014
Rom: What was so loved about his work??
12 December 2014
Finn from Russia: Very nice picture. It looks noisy
21 October 2014
Hayley from New Windsor: Wows! I like this painting and it's was a susscess
12 July 2014
Jordan from Canada: I've Never seen his art before but I'm drawn into it now. He has inspired my future work. I love his use of color and contrast
09 May 2014
Sagar Bhatt from Mississauga, ON, Canada: (*Inspired*) Love it; great artist from a great country.
22 March 2014
bella from sydney: what element of design did he use help me PLZZZ
17 March 2014
Michael from Ukraine: It's nice to see how beautiful this work is especially as Russia tries to invade our dear city.
I hope things such as this would soon bring us together and finally bring peace
03 February 2014
faith howard from comfort : I love this picture because its very different and I like things like that I don't like the same thing all the time I like to see different paintings and drawings . Thats why I liked I liked picture
02 April 2013
Jarrod from Canberra: I'm looking for more information on Mimic 2
23 March 2013
triston: I love this painting. Its like the inside of my head when listening to music, for I have synesthesia too:)
25 February 2013
A. Dimitrova from Russia: This is amazing. It speaks to me
21 November 2012
Alexis Maceda from La Paz, Bolivia: Hi, I was wondering if there is an "oficial interpretation" for this painting.
21 November 2012
Bern from United States: Very unique piece of art. It supposed to represent music.
Before beginning his art career, kandinsky went to school to become a lawyer. Although,he discovered his love for music, then went to art school
12 October 2011
teresa from texas usa: appreciate the remarks. I had mentioned to several people that Kandinsky's work reminded me of music and so now i see why. i am not studying for school, i am pretty old. I love art.
06 October 2011
maria from england: i use this picture for my inglish art project and one more time i love this picture
06 October 2011
maria: i love this picture
08 April 2011
Ember from Canada: I used this picture for my art project! I love this pic!
15 January 2011
st from great britan: thanx kathryn you have helped me a lot !
09 October 2010
chow from scotland: i really like this picture we did it for a univercity project it is so unique
14 September 2010
Kathryn Kij from Cheyenne: Yes, I have studied Kandinsky in school and he would go to the symphony and paint or sketch the music. He used universal shapes and colors that anyone in the world would understand or feel the meaning. For example the colorful grids are the sound of the piano, the circles and triangles are the different brass instruments and the slash marks are the srokes of the strings and the curvy lines are the wind instruments like the flute. The Warmer colors in the yellow to red range are louder nioses and the color tones of greans blues and purples are lower sounds. And he uses composition to draw your eye around the painting so that you can imagine how the whole piece would sound.
10 June 2010
Ali from England: Kandinsky supposedly had synesthesia so he wanted to create the painting equivalent of a symphony to stimulate the ears of the observer. Hence the name "composition".
10 March 2010
molli from england: does any1 knowe any history onthis picture?

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