Draft "Improvisation with red and blue ring"


Watercolor on paper

15.7 × 14.2" (40.0 × 36.0 cm)

Private collection

This bright watercolour was a sketch for oil painted in October 1913. When returning from his two-month trip to Moscow via Berlin, Kandinsky recorded his impressions from the trip in his “Improvisation 34”. After that he started working on his “Improvisation with red and blue ring”. Probably, this is the only existing watercolor sketch, and most likely it was painted a few days before the painter began to work on the canvas. Unfortunately, the final oil on the canvas was not saved; now only its black and white photograph is available.

One of the first collectors of Kandinsky, Arthur J. Eddy from Chicago, bought the painting in Berlin in 1920. Then John A. Thwaites, British vice-consul in Chicago, bought it at an auction in 1937 and sent it to Poland. Most likely, the picture was seized and destroyed by the Nazis as a piece of “degenerate art”.

Comparing this watercolour with other paintings of the same period we see how the painter goes from spontaneous and vivid primary colours to more thoughtful and profound ones. Unlike most other sketches, Kandinsky refuses from creation of contours of the forms and works with large masses of pure colour.

This work has the seeds that would germinate soon in one of Kandinsky’s most significant works, “Composition VII”, which according to Magdalena Dabrowska is “the culmination of the Kandinsky’s art in an abstract form.”

14 May 2015 sold for $4.53 million on Christie’s, New York

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