The most important Paris period painting by Kandinsky to appear on the market

Specialist Conor Jordan considers Wassily Kandinsky’s Rigide et Courbé (Rigid and Curved), unseen in public for more than 50 years and offered in New York on 16 November.


Wassily Kandinsky painted Rigide et Courbé (Rigid and Curved) in December 1935, marking the second anniversary of his arrival in Paris following the closure of the Bauhaus in Berlin. The canvas is densely packed with lively geometric vignettes and a textured surface composed of sand mixed with paint, a technique Kandinsky used only in his Paris paintings of 1934–1935.

The painting was first owned by Solomon R. Guggenheim, who acquired it from Kandinsky in 1936. Extensively published and much exhibited between 1937 and 1949, the work is the most important Paris period painting by Kandinsky ever to appear on the market.

‘With its dynamic sweep of upward energy, Rigide et Courbé evokes a rhapsodic song of thanksgiving, suggesting the bright hope the artist saw in his new home in Paris following his flight from Nazi Germany,’ explains Conor Jordan, Deputy Chairman of Impressionist & Modern Art. Marcel Duchamp had found the artist and his wife Nina a three-room, sixth-floor apartment in a new building overlooking the river in the suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine. The Kandinskys had taken up residence during the final days of December 1933.

Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), Rigide et Courbé, 1935. Oil and sand on canvas. 44⅞ x 63⅞ in (114 x 162.4 cm). Estimate $18,000,000-25,000,000. This work is offered in the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on 16 November at Christie’s in New YorkWassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), Rigide et Courbé, 1935. Oil and sand on canvas. 44⅞ x 63⅞ in (114 x 162.4 cm). Estimate: $18,000,000-25,000,000. This work is offered in the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on 16 November at Christie’s in New York


The bound shapes on one side of the canvas opposed by thrusting organic forms that press outwards suggest a veiled narrative of escape, release and the freedom to begin anew. Rigide et Courbé reflects the profound impact Kandinsky’s new French surroundings had had on his painting.

Estimated at $18-25 million, the painting is being offered from an important private American collection and has not been on the market since 1964. The upcoming sale preview (Christie’s Hong Kong, 30 September to 1 October; Christie’s London, 6-9 October; San Francisco, 13-16 October) marks the first time in more than 50 years that the work will have been publicly displayed.

Source: Christie’s


From Kandinsky to Pollock. The Art of the Guggenheim Collections

The new exhibition at Palazzo Strozzi, from 19th March


Starting in March and running until July 2016, the new exhibition at Palazzo Strozzi, From Kandinsky to Pollock. The Art of the Guggenheim Collections, brings over 100 masterpieces of European and American art from the 1920s and the 1960s to Florence in a narrative that reconstructs the relationship and ties between the two sides of the Atlantic through the lives of two leading American collectors, Peggy and Solomon Guggenheim.

Curated by Luca Massimo Barbero, the exhibition – the result of a cooperative venture involving the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in New York – will offer a unique opportunity to compare and contrast the crucial works of European masters of modern art such asMarcel Duchamp, Max Ernst and Man Ray and European masters of so-called Art Informel, or “Unformed Art”, such as Alberto Burri, Emilio Vedova, Jean Dubuffet and Lucio Fontana, with large paintings and sculptures by some of the most influential personalities on the American art scene in the 1950s and 1960s, such as Jackson Pollock, Marc Rothko, Wilhelm de Kooning, Alexander Calder, Roy Lichtenstein and Cy Twombly.


This exceptional exhibition also celebrates the Guggenheims’ very special tie with the city, because it was precisely in Palazzo Strozzi’s Strozzina undercroft that Peggy Guggenheim, who had only recently arrived in Europe, decided in February 1949 to show the collection that was later to find a permanent home in Venice.

The large paintings, sculptures, engravings and photographs on display at Palazzo Strozzi on loan from the Guggenheim collections in New York and Venice and from other leading international museums, paint a vast fresco of the extraordinarily heady season of 20th century art in which Peggy and Solomon Guggenheim played such a key role. They also tell the fast-paced story of the birth of the Neo-Avant-Garde movements after World War II in a tight and uninterrupted interplay between European and American artists.

Source: Firenze Made In Tuscany

MUSIC in colour

Making impressions:Kandinsky’s ‘The Blue Rider’.
Making impressions:Kandinsky’s ‘The Blue Rider’.

Kandinsky’s choice of bright colours, hues and shapes gave identity to the abstract art movement.

Have you ever looked at a painting and not been sure of what it looked like? Chances are you are looking at a piece of abstract art. In this form of art, artists pay attention to colours, shapes and lines. They use these elements to express their feelings instead of painting objects, people or places that look real.

The abstract art movement began around 1910. Wassily Kandinsky is considered a founding father of this style of painting. He was born in Moscow, Russia, in 1886 and grew up in the Russian town of Odessa. When he was young, he studied drawing and music. He learned to play the piano and the cello. These early experiences with music played a big part in his paintings, in his later years.

At first, Wassily studied law and became a teacher at the Moscow University. When he was 30 years old, he decided he wanted to be an artist and moved to Munich, Germany. He went to art school and started by painting landscapes. He was influenced by the artwork of impressionist painters like Claude Monet and also by many music composers.

Exploring art

In Germany, Kandinsky and an artist friend, Franz Marc, founded a group called The Blue Rider ( Blaue Reiter in German). The group believed that art should explore spiritual ideas and published a magazine that explained their ideas. Kandinsky wrote a book about spirituality and art. One of his famous paintings is also called ‘The Blue Rider’.

Kandinsky’s paintings became gradually more and more abstract. He was interested in painting the feelings created by colours and shapes instead of how objects really looked. Colour was important to him and he felt that colours expressed emotions just like music did. He arranged certain colours next to each other on his paintings, much like a composer arranges notes to produce beautiful music. Many of his paintings were named like pieces of music. He called them Compositions and Improvisations. Some of his paintings were created after he listened to a piece of music. He called them Impressions.

Kandinsky began to teach art in Germany at a well-known school called the Bauhaus (pronounced Bow-House). Here, he sometimes conducted free painting classes where he and his friends taught and also created their own paintings. He lived in Germany until the rise of the Nazi movement. The Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler, was a failed artist and hated many forms of art, especially abstract art. The Nazis closed down the Bauhaus. They seized 57 of Kandinsky’s paintings, in 1937. The paintings were displayed in an exhibition with other paintings that Hitler disliked and called “degenerate art”. They were later destroyed.

Kandinsky left Germany and moved to France, at this time. He lived in France until the end of his life in 1944. During his life as an artist, Kandinsky wrote three books explaining his ideas about art. These ideas have influenced many artists and are as important as his paintings.

You can see Wassily Kandinsky’s paintings up close on Olga’s Kandinsky Gallery:

 by Yamini Pathak
Source: The Hindu

The Good Accident – An Academy Award-Winner’s Thoughts on her Favourite Artist Kandinsky

Helen Mirren on Vasily Kandinsky

Filmed by Lost & Found Films. Produced by MoMA

Vasily Kandinsky. Panel for Edwin R. Campbell No. 1. 1914. Oil on canvas. Mrs. Simon Guggenheim Fund. Vasily Kandinsky. Panel for Edwin R. Campbell No. 2. 1914. Oil on canvas. Nelson A. Rockefeller Fund (by exchange). Vasily Kandinsky. Panel for Edwin R. Campbell No. 3. 1914. Oil on canvas. Mrs. Simon Guggenheim Fund. Vasily Kandinsky. Panel for Edwin R. Campbell No. 4. 1914. Oil on canvas. Nelson A. Rockefeller Fund (by exchange). All works in the collection of The Museum of Modern Art and © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris

© 2011 The Museum of Modern Art


An Algorithm might soon allow you to create your own Kandinsky inspired pictures

Imagine this: one day, you open Instagram to post a photo of your cat snoozing on an armchair, only to find a crop of dazzling new filters: Picasso, for example; van Gogh; Kandinsky. What if rendering your everyday surroundings in the familiar, yet strange, palettes of famous artists was as simple as selecting one from a menu?

Of course, such a task is far from simple, but a recent paper from a German research team suggests it’s not entirely impossible.

PHOTO: ANDREAS PRAEFCKE VIA WIKIPEDIA. ALTERED IMAGES: GATYS, ECKER, BETHGE The researchers input a photo and a work of art into their model to achieve a combination of the content of the photo (a row of houses) and the aesthetic of each painting.
The researchers input a photo and a work of art into their model to achieve a combination of the content of the photo (a row of houses) and the aesthetic of each painting.

In the paper, “A Neural Algorithm of Artistic Style,” Leon A. Gatys, Alexander S. Ecker and Matthias Bethge demonstrate a visual model meant to allow the content and style of an image to be separated and combined in various iterations. Inputting a photo of a row of houses, the researchers used their model to blend the content of the photo with the distinctive visual styles of famous artists such as Edvard Munch and Wassily Kandinsky.

This process, of course, by no means mirrors the quick, easy application of an Instagram filter. As The Observer’s Ryan Steadman points out, “the process takes about an hour to complete.”

GATYS, ECKER, BETHGE In the left-hand column, the style is emphasized and the content difficult to perceive. On the right-hand column, the emphasis on content leads to a less well-matched style to the input painting, Kandinsky's "Composition VII."
In the left-hand column, the style is emphasized and the content difficult to perceive. On the right-hand column, the emphasis on content leads to a less well-matched style to the input painting, Kandinsky’s “Composition VII.”

What’s more, the authors write, “image content and style cannot be completely disentangled […] there usually does not exist an image that perfectly matches both constraints at the same time.”

The model works not through a simple filtration — the authors point to non-photorealistic rendering and texture transfer as methods for stylizing photos in a more straightforward vein — but by processing each input image in layers, extracting characteristic visual components in a hierarchy.

In other words, the authors weren’t simply applying a filter, but making choices about which input — style or content — to weight more heavily in creating the composite image, and aiming for a balance between the two.

The results, as demonstrated in the paper, are stunning, and it’s tempting to quickly leap to the possibility of an app that could make us all look like the next Picasso — or at least give us a hint of what it would look like if Picasso painted our cat sleeping on the armchair. “The group should probably try to set up a meeting with Mark Zuckerberg,” advised Steadman.

In the age of Instagram, we’re all talented photographers — or at least we’re a little better at convincing ourselves we are. Throwing a Valencia filter on a snapshot may make your amateur pic look a little more polished, but it’s a faint imitation of the care and craft that professional photographers infuse into their art. Blending “The Scream” with your own photo, on the other hand, may bear little resemblance at all to how the real Edvard Munch would portray that scene, and it certainly wouldn’t be an expression of your own creativity.

GATYS, ECKER, BETHGE The same photo, through a Picasso's 'Femme neue assise' filter.
The same photo, through a Picasso’s ‘Femme neue assise’ filter.

The original authors aren’t necessarily making such startup-friendly claims. Their stated goals lean more academic, as they write that their model “provides a new, fascinating tool to study the perception and neural representation of art, style and content-independent image appearance in general.” The lab has previously geared similar studies toward ends that should delight art history nerds, such as a paper on using a similar model to determine the artist of a particular work using algorithmic stylistic analysis.

Not as kitschy-fun as remixing your selfies through a Kandinsky filter, perhaps, but in the long run, probably a lot more beneficial for the art world.

H/T The Observer

by Claire Fallon

Source: Huffington Post


Kandinsky work auctioned for $21 million but misses the mark

A Christie's employee poses with Wassily Kandinsky ''Studie zu 'Improvisation 3''' artwork at Christie's auction house in London June 7, 2013.
A Christie’s employee poses with Wassily Kandinsky ”Studie zu ‘Improvisation 3”’ artwork at Christie’s auction house in London June 7, 2013.

Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky’s expressionist masterpiece “Studie zu Improvisation 3, 1909” was the highlight and leading indicator for a flat Christie’s London Impressionist and modern art sale on Tuesday.

The painting fell short of its top estimate and a record for the artist at auction when it sold for just more than $21 million, the world’s largest auctioneers said on Tuesday.

The early 20th century artist’s vibrantly colored painting of a knight on horseback was the highlight of the sale and had a top estimate of $24.19 million. A similar painting set a $23 million record for Kandinsky’s work last year.

The Russian expressionist was not the only leading light in an auction series of 44 lots that also included works from Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore, René Magritte, Amedeo Modigliani and Paul Signac.

The auction total for the evening of 64.07 million pounds ($100 million) fell short of a pre-sale top estimate of 75.8 million pounds but was well above the low estimate at 52.8 million pounds.

That was slightly down from the auction house’s performance for the same sale category in New York a month ago, where Christie’s met expectations with a total of $160 million and a record was set for French artist Chaim Soutine of $18,043,750 for his circa 1927 oil “Le Petit Patissier.”

Jay Vincze, Christie’s London international director and head of Impressionist and modern art, called Tuesday night’s sale results “solid” and said it displayed continuing strength in selling rates.

“There was great depth of bidding on works of high quality at all price levels, with strong participation from many new and existing collectors from both traditional and growth markets, including Greater China and India,” he said in a statement.

“Studie zu Improvisation 3, 1909” belongs to Kandinsky’s revolutionary series of paintings, started earlier that year, known as “Improvisations,” which mark his first major forays into the realm of abstraction.

The romantic image of a lone knight preparing to storm the citadel is a clear and repeated symbol in Kandinsky’s art of the dawning of a new age, of the coming of the Apocalypse and of the ultimate Resurrection of the spirit that would, Kandinsky believed, inevitably follow it.

Among the highlights of the other lots in the sale, Modigliani’s portrait of his art dealer Paul Guillaume, one of only four, went for 6.7 million pounds, shy of its top estimate of 7 million pounds.

Picasso’s 1960 “Femme Assise Dans un Fauteuil” edged just over its top estimate by going for 6.1 million pounds. It is one of a group of portraits of his partner Jacqueline Roque.

There were three Moore sculptures up for sale. His 1944 “Family Group” earned 337,875 pounds against a top estimate of 500,000 pounds. A 1978-80 “Reclining Figure No. 7” earned 1.4 million pounds against a top estimate of 1.8 million pounds while his granite abstract “Stone Form” made in 1984, earned 1.4 million pounds, about 400,000 pounds short of its top estimate. ($1 = 0.6407 British pounds)

by Paul Casciato

Source: Reuters