Vasily Kandinsky b. 1866, Moscow; d. 1944, Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
Oil on canvas
35 x 45 3/4 inches (88.9 x 116.2 cm)
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection, By gift
2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris
As in many of Vasily Kandinsky's canvasesincluding Various Parts (Paries diverses, 1940), Various Actions (Actions varies, 1941), and Red Accent (L'Accent rouge, 1943) the composition of Violet-Orange is divided into independent floating elements, one of which includes a miniature picture within a picture. This structural strategy first appeared in Kandinsky's work in 1929; in Violet-Orange, the black, vertical rectangle in the upper center appears as a separate entity, containing its own constellation of moving parts: a falling ladder, a curving rainbow, sashes of color, and other forms.
Kandinsky employed this compositional device to enforce spatial relationships and enhance the illusion of three-dimensionality within his canvases. He wished the viewer to feel compelled, by virtue of layered planes and seemingly recessive space, to mentally enter his paintings.