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Image credit Vasily Kandinsky, Improvisation 28 (second version) (Improvisation 28 [zweite Fassung]), 1912 (detail). Oil on canvas, 111.4 x 162.1 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection, By gift 37.239. © 2012 Artists Right
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Denis OlivierDenis Olivier
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PublishedJuly 3, 2012 at 05:00pm
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Vasily Kandinsky

Period 1911–1913Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Painting, New York, United-States
Monday June 25, 2012 - Wednesday April 17, 2013 - Event ended.

Perhaps more than any other 20th-century painter, Vasily Kandinsky (b. 1866, Moscow; d. 1944, Neuilly-sur-Seine, France) has been closely linked to the history of the Guggenheim Museum. Hilla Rebay—artist, art advisor, and the museum’s first director—promoted nonobjective painting above all other forms of abstraction. She was particularly inspired by the work and writing of Kandinsky, a pioneer of abstraction, who believed that the task of the painter was to convey his own inner world, rather than imitate the natural world.

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The museum’s holdings have grown to include more than 150 works by Kandinsky, and focused exhibitions of his works are presented in the Kandinsky Gallery on Annex Level 3. The current installation, Kandinsky 1911–1913, highlights paintings completed at the moment the artist made great strides toward complete abstraction and published his aesthetic treatise, On the Spiritual in Art (1911, though dated 1912). Also featured are paintings by Robert Delaunay and Franz Marc that were exhibited alongside the work of Kandinsky and others in the landmark 1912 Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) exhibition held at the Moderne Galerie Heinrich Thannhauser in Munich.

In 1922 Vasily Kandinsky (b. 1866, Moscow; d. 1944, Neuilly-sur-Seine, France) accepted a teaching position at the Bauhaus, the state-sponsored Weimar school of art and applied design founded in 1919 by architect Walter Gropius. The school’s curriculum was based on the principle that the crafts were equal to the traditional arts and was organized according to a medieval-style guild system of training under the tutelage of masters.

Kandinsky conducted the Wall Painting Workshop and Preliminary Course and taught at all three of the school’s sequential locations in Weimar, Dessau, and Berlin until 1933, when the Bauhaus was closed due to pressure from the National Socialist (Nazi) government.

Geometric shapes came to play a dominant role in Kandinsky’s pictorial vocabulary at the Bauhaus; the artist, who was interested in uncovering a universal aesthetic language, increased his use of overlapping, flat planes and clearly delineated forms. This change was due, in part, to his familiarity with the Suprematist work of Kazimir Malevich and the art of the Constructivists. Kandinsky’s turn toward geometric forms was also likely a testament to the influence of industry and developments in technology.

Drawn from the museum's permanent collection, this intimate presentation features paintings and works on paper from a prolific period of Kandinsky's career.

Also featured are paintings by Robert Delaunay and Franz Marc that were exhibited alongside the work of Kandinsky and others in the landmark 1912 Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) exhibition held at the Moderne Galerie Heinrich Thannhauser, Munich. The exhibition is organized by Tracey Bashkoff, Curator, Collections and Exhibitions, and Megan Fontanella, Assistant Curator, Collections and Provenance, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

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