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Last updated: 1/25/2017
Home / Gallery Tour 1 / Gallery News / Gallery Tour 2 / Artists

Wassily Kandinsky (Russian, 1866-1944): Klange / Sounds

Kandinsky 1 / Kandinsky 2 / Kandinsky 3 / Kandinsky 4
German Expressionism: Survey I / Survey II / Survey III

"Käthe Kollwitz and German Expressionism" featured over fifty works by Käthe Kollwitz plus additional works by Josef Albers, Ernst Barlach, Rudolf Bauer, Max Beckmann, Peter Behrens, Heinrich Campendonck, Marc Chagall, Lovis Corinth,
Otto Dix, Lyonel Feininger,Conrad Felixmuller, Hans Fronius, Alfons Graber, Otto Greiner, Georg Grosz, Erich Heckel,
Hannah Hoch, Karl Hofer, Wassily Kandinsky, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Paul Klee, Oskar Kokoschka, Ludwig Meidner,
Edvard Munch, Gabrielle Munter, Heinrich Nauen, Emile Nolde, Max Pechstein, Hilla von Rebay, Georges Rouault,
Rudolf Schlichter, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Siegfried Schott, Georg Tappert, Wilhelm Wagner, and others.

German Expressionist Drawings

The Russians: Chagall, Sonia Delaunay, Goncharova, Larionov, and Malevich
One of the most important artists of the twentieth century, Kandinsky was a founding member of Der Blaue Reiter group and one of the first to begin moving towards pure abstraction. His works are to be found in every important museum in Europe and America. In Klange / Sounds, he combined poetry with woodcut to suggest the equivalence of the visible and the audible ("Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter," said Keats; Kandinsky might have agreed with some rewriting). In these woodcuts, one can see him leaving his Russian folk-art roots behind as the images he presents become less and less representational. Klange represents one of the turning points in western art. As Hans K. Roethel says in The Graphic Work of Kandinsky: A Loan Exhibition (NY: The International Exhibitions Foundation, 1974), "a seemingly disproportionate number of examples from the year 1911 have been included in this exhibition. The reason for this is that it was the most productive year in Kandinsky's whole life from the point of view both of the quality and the quantity of his work." Almost of all these works were done for Klange (published in 1913 by R. Piper in Munich in an edition of 345 impressions) and manifest the process by which his art ceased to be devoted to a subject outside of the art and instead became a quest for a balance of form and color within the art (even—perhaps especially— in the black and white woodcuts). A number of these works were translations of paintings into woodcuts and, Roethel observes, "in most cases the graphic transformation [as he himself said] turned out to be 'better than the painting.' " Later in his life, Kandinsky began to feel very strongly that these works were too little known and he began publishing selections in deluxe art reviews like Cahiers d’Art and XXe Siécle. After his death, his widow, Nina Kandinsky continued the practise, and allowed Galerie Maeght, to whom she had entrusted the exhibition and sale of Kandinsky's paintings and watercolors, to publish several of his woodcuts for Klange in Derriere le Miroir; she also allowed the publication of four more in a special issue of XXe Siécle published as an Homage to Kandinsky. Finally in 1971, she allowed a deluxe printing of 10 of the Klange woodcuts (five in color and five in black and white) in a reprint of one of his theoretical texts, Regard sur le Passé (Rückblicke). In this boxed set of unbound pages printed on large sheets (380x280mm) of Arches paper published in an edition of 100 portfolios (the first 40 also contained a set on Japon paper) signed by her on the justification page and numbered, she choose seven woodcuts (4 in color) that had not been elsewhere reprinted along with three also found in the 1966 Homage to Kandinsky. Each of these here appears in with a specially-made signature drystamp (a K inside a triangle) similar to the signature Kandinsky cut into his woodblocks. There are no pencil-signed impressions of any of the Klange woodcuts.

Select Bibliography:
Wassily Kandinsky, Complete Writings on Art, ed. Kenneth C. Lindsay & Peter Vergo (Da Capo, 1994); Wassily Kandinsky, On the Spiritual in Art ed. & trans. Hilla Rebay (Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 1946); Vivian Endicott Barnett, Kandinsky at the Guggenheim (Abbeville Press, n.d. [1983]); Vivian Endicott Barnett, Kandinsky: Catalogue Raisonné of the Watercolours 1900-1921 (Sotheby's, 1992); Vivian Endicott Barnett, Kandinsky: Catalogue Raisonné of the Watercolours 1922-1944 (Sotheby's, 1994); Vivian Endicott Barnett and Armin Zweite, Kandinsky: Kleine Freuden. Aquarelle und Zeichnungen (Prestel-Verlag, 1992); Christian Derouet, Kandinsky in Paris: 1934-1944 (Guggenheim Museum, 1985)l Hugo Düchting, Wassily Kandinsky 1866-1944: A Revolution in Painting (Benedikt Taschen, 1990); Peter Jelavich, and Peg Weis, Kandinsky in Munich: 1896-1914 (Guggenheim Museum,1982), François Le Targat, Kandinsky (Ediciones Poligrafa, 1986); G. Di. San Lazzaro, ed. Homage to Wassily Kandinsky (NY: Leon Amiel, 1976); Michel Seuphor, Abstract Painting: Fifty Years of Accomplishment from Kandinsky to Jackson Pollock (Abrams, 1964); Louise Averill Svendson, Kandinsky Watercolors: A Selection from The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Hilda von Rebay Foundation (Guggenheim Museum, 1980); Annette and Luc Vezin, Kandinsky and Der Blaue Reiter (Editions Pierre Terrail, 1992); Peg Weiss, Kandinsky in Munich: The Formative Jugendstil Years (Princeton University Press, 1979).

Prints: The Catalgoue Raisonné of Kandinsky's Prints by Hans K. Roethel is almost unavailable and terrifyingly expensive (it is also printed in German); all prints are identified by an "R" number after the title. A far more available work, also by Roethel, is The Graphic Work of Kandinsky: A Loan Exhibition (NY: The International Exhibitions Foundation, 1974). This show, organized by the Guggenheim Museum, opened there and circulated to the following institutions: The Cincinnati Art Museum, the Arkansas Arts Center, the Marion Kogler Mcnay Arts Institute (San Antonio), the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Fort Worth Art Center, the William Nelson Rockhill Gallery of Art, Kansas City MO, the Davenport Municipal Art Gallery, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Worcester Art Museum (MA), and The Phillips Collection, Washington DC. Many of Kandinsky's prints (including all of the woodcuts for Klange) are also reprinted in the catalogue raisonné of the Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art by Bruce Davis (Prestel, 1989) and identified as Davis-Rifkind.
Apflebaum / Apple tree (Roethel 126, Davis-Rifkind 1368: 16). Original color woodcut, 1911. Edition: 345 impressions signed in the block with the monogram for Klange / Sounds (1913). There was also an edition (from which our impression comes) of 100 impressions printed on heavy cream wove paper measuring 375x280mm from the original block with the authorization of Kandinsky's widow, Nina, in 1971 in Regard sur le Passé. (The signature drystamp is visible lower left). Image size: 100x100mm. Price: $2600.
Zwei frauen in Mondlandschaft / Two women in moonlit landscape (Roethel 100, Davis-Rifkind 1368: 4). Original color woodcut, 1911. Edition: 345 impressions signed in the block with the monogram for Klange / Sounds (1913). There was also an edition (from which our impression comes) of 100 impressions printed on heavy cream wove paper measuring 375x280mm from the original block with the authorization of Kandinsky's widow, Nina, in 1971 in Regard sur le Passé. (The signature drystamp is visible lower left). Image size: 88x119mm. Price: $2800.

The black lines should be flat; they are distorted by reflections from the flash.
Weisser Klang / White sound (Roethel 113, Davis-Rifkind 1368: 10). Original color woodcut, 1911. Edition: 345 impressions signed in the block with the monogram for Klange / Sounds (1913). There was also an edition (from which our impression comes) of 100 impressions printed on heavy cream wove paper measuring 375x280mm from the original block with the authorization of Kandinsky's widow, Nina, in 1971 in Regard sur le Passé. (The signature drystamp is visible lower left). Image size: 88x97mm. Price: $2800.

The black lines should be flat; they are distorted by reflections from the flash.
Landschaft mit Figuren un Krusifix / Landscape with People and Crucifix (Roethel 134, Davis-Rifkind 1368: 22). Original color woodcut, 1911. Edition: 345 impressions signed in the block with the monogram for Klange / Sounds (1913). There was also an edition (from which our impression comes) of 100 impressions printed on heavy cream wove paper measuring 375x280mm from the original block with the authorization of Kandinsky's widow, Nina, in 1971 in Regard sur le Passé. (The signature drystamp is visible lower left). Illustrated in The Graphic Work of Kandinsky. Image size: 97x97mm. Price: $2800.

Sadly, the color balance is incorrect: the white area across the bottom is correct, the orange is correct, the green should be brown in the middle, the dark area at the top should be blue-green, nd the paper should be cream-colored.
Orientalisches / In an Oriental Mode (Roethel 106, Davis-Rifkind 1368: 7). Original color woodcut, 1911. Edition: 345 impressions signed in the block with the monogram for Klange / Sounds (1913). There was also an edition (from which our impression comes) of 100 impressions printed on heavy cream wove paper measuring 375x280mm from the original block with the authorization of Kandinsky's widow, Nina, in 1971 in Regard sur le Passé. (The signature drystamp is visible lower left). In addition, there was also an edition of unknown size printed from the original block with the authorization of Kandinsky's widow, Nina, in 1966. Image size: 124x190mm. Price: $2800.

The paper should be a little brighter (but less white than the white within the image itself).
Improvisation 19 (Roethel 127, Davis-Rifkind 1368: 17). Original woodcut, 1912. Edition: 345 impressions signed in the block with the monogram for Klange / Sounds (1913). There was also an edition (from which our impression comes) of 100 impressions printed on heavy cream wove paper measuring 375x280mm from the original block with the authorization of Kandinsky's widow, Nina, in 1971 in Regard sur le Passé. (The signature drystamp is visible lower left). Illustrated in The Graphic Work of Kandinsky. Image size: 164x212mm. Price: $1850.
Jüngster Tag / The Last Judgment (Roethel 146, Davis-Rifkind 1368: 19). Original woodcut, 1912. Edition: 345 impressions signed in the block with the monogram for Klange / Sounds (1913). There was also an edition (from which our impression comes) of 100 impressions printed on heavy cream wove paper measuring 375x280mm from the original block with the authorization of Kandinsky's widow, Nina, in 1971 in Regard sur le Passé. (The signature drystamp is visible lower right). There was also an edition of unknown size printed from the original block with the authorization of Kandinsky's widow, Nina, in 1966. One of the last two works for Klange, this is also one of the most abstract pieces in the work. Illustrated in The Graphic Work of Kandinsky. Image size: 164x212mm. Price: $1750.
Vignette bei Frühling / Improvisation for Sprint (Roethel 143). Original woodcut, 1911. Edition: 345 impressions signed in the block with the monogram for Klange / Sounds (1913). There was also an edition (from which our impression comes) of 100 impressions printed on heavy cream wove paper measuring 375x280mm from the original block with the authorization of Kandinsky's widow, Nina, in 1971 in Regard sur le Passé. (The signature drystamp is visible lower left). Image size: 120x90mm. Price: $1750.
Improvisation 7 (Roethel 124, Davis-Rifkind 1368: 15). Original woodcut, 1911. Edition: 345 impressions signed in the block with the monogram for Klange / Sounds (1913). There was also an edition (from which our impression comes) of 100 impressions printed on heavy cream wove paper measuring 375x280mm from the original block with the authorization of Kandinsky's widow, Nina, in 1971 in Regard sur le Passé. (The signature drystamp is visible lower left). There was also an edition of unknown size printed from the original block with the authorization of Kandinsky's widow, Nina, in 1966. One of the last two works for Klange, this is also one of the most abstract pieces in the work. Image size: 164x212mm. Price: $1750.
Der Schleier (Roethel 73). Original woodcut, 1911. Edition: 345 impressions signed in the block with the monogram for Klange / Sounds (1913). There was also an edition (from which our impression comes) of 100 impressions printed on heavy cream wove paper measuring 375x280mm from the original block with the authorization of Kandinsky's widow, Nina, in 1971 in Regard sur le Passé. (The signature drystamp is visible lower left). There was also an edition of unknown size printed from the original block with the authorization of Kandinsky's widow, Nina, in 1966. Image size: 150x40mm. Price: 1500.

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