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

Abstract Painting Meets 3D Design and Printing To Recreate Kandinsky Masterpiece “Composition VIII”

At the age of 30, Moscow native Wassily Kandinsky had a comfortable career teaching law and economics, and he gave it all up to enroll in art school in Munich.

Wassily Kandinsky
Wassily Kandinsky

But things didn’t go exactly to plan. Kandinsky failed on his first attempt to gain admission to school, so he began his study of art on his own time. The year before he left Moscow, the budding artist saw an exhibit of paintings by Monet, and he was stunned by the power of the impressionistic style of the series “Haystacks,” as he noted:

“I dully felt that the object of the painting was missing. And I noticed — with surprise and confusion — that the picture not only gripped me, but impressed itself ineradicably on my memory. Painting took on a fairy-tale power and splendor.”

When Kandinsky returned to Moscow following the outbreak of World War I, his early impressionist style hardened into a more avant-garde, geometric pictorial vocabulary. The paintings — once filled with compositional elements taken from nature and resembling clouds, the sun, mountains, and references to the landscape painting tradition — devolved to geometric and basic biomemetic keys which heralded a new vision of what art could become.

Works like Kandinsky’s “Composition” series became lynchpins of abstract painting and inspired generations of painters to follow suit in their search for new forms of expression.

Composition VIII
Composition VIII

“The circle is the synthesis of the greatest oppositions,” Kandinsky said of the metamorphosis of his style. “It combines the concentric and the eccentric in a single form and in equilibrium. Of the three primary forms, it points most clearly to the fourth dimension.”

And now three former Autodesk employees who worked on AutoCAD for mobile have looked to the past to create new software which brings 3D printing to bear on the future of design and artistic expression.

“We chose ‘Composition VIII’… since the original idea behind this series of compositions was to experiment with the medium of painting,” says Eviathar Meyer, the co-founder and CEO of UMake. “Our take was to do the same sort of experimentation, but interpreting it within the medium of 3D design and printing. We wanted to showcase a piece that uses geometric shapes to be seen as an architectural plan from one angle, and as modern artwork from another.”


Meyer says the process of making the piece wasdivided among different tools and methods. The team started by sketching the geometric shapes and lines using their app, UMake.

“It’s just easier to trace over and sketch these shapes on a tablet and stylus, rather than tracing it over with a mouse on desktop software. After we finished the sketch in 2D, we started to create surfaces from the geometry,” Meyer says. “It was fun playing with that and imagining how a city could be created from a 2D piece of art.”

Once the original sketches were complete, the result was exported to the IGES file format and refined with Rhino 5. The 3D design for printing was fleshed out by filling any gaps and sharpening details, and then the files were taken to TechFactoryPlus for output on a Witbox 3D printer.

“We debated whether to use PLA or wood materials, because I really loved the wood texture, but eventually we decided to go with white PLA so it would better represent a blank white canvas,” Meyer said. “It took us around six hours to print this model, and the quality of the Witbox was pretty incredible – it worked perfectly on the first try.”

Meyer says his nascent company is launching a private-beta this week, and he adds that the software will support iPad 3rd generation or iPad Mini 2 and up when running iOS 8. He says the purpose of the beta program is to test the user experience for UMake to see how improvements can be made to enable more people to make 3D designs easily and intuitively on their tablets.

Would you be interested in 3D software like UMake for your tablet? Let us know if you plan to sign up for the UMake beta process in the Painting Meets 3D Design and Printing forum thread on Check out the video below of the production process for turning the 2D painting into a 3D sculpture.

by Te Edawards

Source: 3D Print


Kandinsky: The Sounds of Music in Abstract Art

Kandinsky pushed the barriers with his art. Through criticism and rejection, his perseverance paid off to become a master in his field. As he fought off this strong criticism in his early stages as an artist, Kandinsky created various harmonious places for himself and other artists to release their creativity; a safe haven of sorts in abstract art. This included the Neue Künstlervereinigung München (Munich New Artists’ Association) of which Kandinsky was a founding member and became its president in 1909. However, his association with this group was short-lived after the rejection of his painting Last Judgement. This then resulted in the creation of the group The Blue Rider (Der Blaue Reiter) with fellow artists Paul Klee, August Macke, Gabriele Münter, and Alexej von Jawlensky.

The Blue Rider group was much less strict and less traditional than the New Artists’ Association. The artistic values of the Blue Rider group were not expressed in a manifesto but it was generally assumed that the common goal was to express spiritual truths through the medium of art, specifically modern art. Their beliefs were founded more on the spiritual side; on a correlation between visual art and music, of a connection between the spiritual and symbolic associations of colour, the synthesis of the arts and a more natural instinctive approach to painting.

Wassily Kandinsky, Composition VII, 1913, Oil on canvas, 200 x 300 cm, The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
Wassily Kandinsky, Composition VII, 1913, Oil on canvas, 200 x 300 cm, The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

The years between 1911 and 1914 became known as The Blue Rider period with music playing an important role in the development of abstract art specifically with regards to painting for rhythm, a merging of the two art forms. The correlation between physical art and the non-material art of music is expressed through the rhythmic non-linear forms which are reminiscent of this Blue Rider period and have now come to represent the German Expressionist movement in all its glory. In the Art of Spiritual Harmony and with regards to form, Kandinsky makes reference to a piano stating “the artist is the hand which, by touching the various keys, (form), affects the human soul to respond to certain vibrations.”1

At a simpler level, Kandinsky’s awareness of this intricate link between these two art forms impelled him to name some of his works of art titles which would typically be reserved for musical pieces. His various composition pieces (Composition, Composition IV etc.) are a direct example of this as well as Musical Overture. Violet Wedge (Study), The Lyrical and Impression III (Concert). This however is just what Kandinsky shares with us about the painting, in turn allowing us to be aware of the impact of music on his art. Without these titles, the correlation might have been much more difficult to establish.

This correlation between art and music can also be described as somewhat of a personal experience as Kandinsky himself remarked that “the relationships in art are not necessarily ones of outward form but are founded on inner sympathy of meaning2.” Everything is relative, what one sound or image may bring to mind in one person will not necessarily be the same as for another as they will evoke something quite different for each individual, drawing from each person’s personal experiences, memories and associations. However it may also be noted that “presumably the lines and colours have the same effect as harmony and rhythm in music have on the truly musical.3” Those who have more experience or knowledge of music and art can truly appreciate the subtlety of Kandinsky’s work and the manner in which he combines his external influences, reminiscent of the Blue Rider movement.

Wassily Kandinsky, Lyrical (plate 9) from ‘Sounds’, 1911, Woodcut from an illustrated book with fifty-six, woodcuts, 14.8 x 21.7 cm, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Wassily Kandinsky, Lyrical (plate 9) from ‘Sounds’, 1911, Woodcut from an illustrated book with fifty-six, woodcuts, 14.8 x 21.7 cm, The Museum of Modern Art, New York

“Kandinsky is painting music. That is to say, he has broken down the barrier between music and painting, and has isolated the pure emotion which, for want of a better name, we call the artistic emotion.”4

Kandinsky was not only an artist but a theorist; his writings in The Blue Rider Almanac as well as The Art of Spiritual Harmony, also known as On the Spiritual in Art, have brought meaning, value and understanding to his artistic decisions. It is in these writings that he divulges more of the meaning of his paintings, a justification of sorts and specifically refers to music and its effect on his work. Throughout his life, Kandinsky had an “unswerving movement towards a synthesis of the arts”5, making his own artwork an example.

In this modern word, a synthesis of the arts has become more and more common and accepted without realisation. In a way, people are surrounded by more art and different art forms than ever before however it is most commonly jumping from screen to screen. Sometimes you may just need to step back, immerse yourself in the simple pleasures of art, and witness the “the effect of music [which] is too subtle for words6” for yourself.


1 W. Kandinsky, The Art of Spiritual Harmony, Cosimo Inc., New York, 1914, p. 25
2 W. Kandinsky, The Art of Spiritual Harmony, Cosimo Inc., New York, 1914, p. XV
3 M. T. H Sadler in W. Kandinsky, The Art of Spiritual Harmony, Cosimo Inc., New York, 1914, p. XIX
4 M. T. H Sadler in W. Kandinsky, The Art of Spiritual Harmony, Cosimo Inc., New York, 1914, p. XIX
5 Wassily Kandinsky, Parkstone Press, New York, 2015, p. 18
6 M. T. H Sadler in W. Kandinsky, The Art of Spiritual Harmony, Cosimo Inc., New York, 1914, p. XIX

Wassily Kandinsky: 148 years starring abstractly

Launelinie, 1927, by Wassily Kandinsky. Photograph: Christie’s Images/Corbis
Launelinie, 1927, by Wassily Kandinsky. Photograph: Christie’s Images/Corbis

The fascinating thing about Wassily Kandinsky is how seriously and carefully he evolved from figurative painting to abstract art. Kandinsky did not become an abstract painter lightly. He reached abstraction in a strenuous, thoughtful way that gives his art huge authority.

In his early expressionist paintings villages glow in radiant colours. These landscapes pulse with wild chromatic splendour that resembles the freedom of the fauves. In fact Kandinsky’s expressive landscapes are already partly abstract, in their use of colour. This innovation, that started with the French fauves and was rapidly adopted by the German expressionists, was the first, huge step towards abstraction in 20th-century art. But the wild colours enflaming art in the early years of the century still portray a very recognisable world. Kandinsky took it a revolutionary step further by reaching a logical conclusion – what if painting were pure colour? What if it created its own imaginary world, like the world of a symphony?

Yellow-Red-Blue, 1925, by Wassily Kandinsky. Photograph: Burstein Collection/Corbis
Yellow-Red-Blue, 1925, by Wassily Kandinsky. Photograph: Burstein Collection/Corbis

Like symphonies, Kandinsky’s great abstract paintings speak directly to our senses and feelings. Their constellations of mysterious marks are like waves of sound that trigger emotions. For him, the world they pointed towards was a spiritual realm, a hidden truth.

Kandinsky and Piet Mondrian both build cathedrals of the mind in their abstract art – silent cities of spiritual calm. That mystical impulse is connected to mathematics, and in Kandinsky this means a deep consciousness of structure. If his paintings have the expressive colour of Van Gogh’s Starry Night they also have the classical clarity of Poussin.

There is a true grandeur to his concept of painting, and a sense of truth. Whatever we think about his spiritualist beliefs, the result is an art that is at once purely abstract and plainly rooted in a deep feel for the nature of things. A profound, paradoxical and rich achievement. Kandinsky intuits the cosmic complexity of modern physics. His art can be set alongside today’s images of the fabric of the universe.

None of this makes Kandinsky an easy artist.

It makes him a great one.

Source: The Guardian.