Untitled (1916)  by Wassily Kandinsky



Watercolor, gouache and crayon on paper

9.1 × 13.4" (23.0 × 34.0 cm)

The Untitled, (about 1916) is one of Kandinsky’s most exquisite works which was created at the time when substantial changes were taking place in the artist’s life and work. After his return to Russia in 1914, turbulent events of the World War I caused serious changes in his technique: he mainly had to use gouache or watercolours on paper, with a few exceptions, however, for example, his famous Moscow. Red Square painted in 1916.

The refined balance between the colour and form in the Untitled holds the visual power of his Munich period (for example, refer to Composinion No. 7) but also comprises some new liveliness and a sense of compositional unity. It is a whirlpool of colour that underlies it, bursting with its sparkling yellow and blue and accentuated with thin black lines. Paul Overoy wrote: “Those several works he created show an unceasing evolution, some progressive reconsidering in colour. In the works painted in Russia geometrical shapes arise from gradual simplification of the amorphous shapes typical of Munich period paintings [...]. Painting elements seem to be in a state of tension; on the one hand, they show a way to geometricity, and on the other – that to spontaneous bursting forms of his Munich works.”

The painting was sold at Sotheby’s on 8 February this year for $4.9 million.

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