Early Paintings and Woodcuts by Vasily Kandinsky On View at the Guggenheim Museum

VasilyKandinsky Landscape1909 490

Early Paintings and Woodcuts by Vasily Kandinsky On View at the Guggenheim Museum

 

Exhibition: Kandinsky Before Abstraction, 1901–1911
Venue: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue, New York
Location: Annex Level 3
Dates: June 27, 2014–Spring 2015


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(NEW YORK, NY – June 25, 2014) — Beginning June 27 through spring 2015, the Guggenheim Museum presents Kandinsky Before Abstraction, 1901–1911 in the museum’s Kandinsky Gallery on Annex Level 3. The exhibition features an intimate presentation of sixteen early paintings and woodcuts by Vasily Kandinsky (b. 1866, Moscow; d. 1944, Neuilly-sur-Seine, France), highlighting pictorial themes that preceded the artist’s known nonobjective style.

This exhibition is organized by Tracey Bashkoff, Senior Curator, Collections and Exhibitions, and Megan Fontanella, Associate Curator, Collections and Provenance.

Kandinsky launched his artistic career in 1895, abandoning a legal profession to become the art director of a printing firm in Moscow. One year later Kandinsky left for Munich, where he formed associations with the city’s leading avant-garde groups, realized his talent for working with three classic printmaking techniques (etching, lithography, and woodcut), and began to evolve as an artist and theoretician. The woodcut in particular, which requires artists to capture the essence of their vision or story through a reduced means of expression, provided Kandinsky with a vehicle for articulating his romantic tendencies. Recollections of Russia combined with romantic historicism, lyric poetry, folklore, and pure fantasy informed his early work.

He started traveling extensively in 1904, making trips to Venice, Paris, Amsterdam, Tunisia, and Russia, before settling in Munich again in 1908 and translating his printmaking to landscape painting. Such graphic elements as clearly delineated forms, flattened perspective, and the black-and-white “noncolors” of his woodcuts pervade the jewel-colored Bavarian landscapes of 1908–09. These paintings differ remarkably from his earlier exercises in Neo-Impressionist painting.

By 1913, he had already reduced his recognizable and recurrent motifs—including the horse and rider, rolling hills, towers, and trees—to broad areas of bright, radiant color that were subsidiary to the expressive qualities of line and color. These calligraphic contours and rhythmic forms reveal scarce traces of their representational origins. Kandinsky was finally able to evoke what he called the “hidden power of the palette” and move away from his pictorial beginnings, thus embarking on the road to abstraction.

About the Kandinsky Gallery
The history of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is intertwined with the work of Vasily Kandinsky (1866–1944) more than any other artist of the twentieth century. Artist, art advisor, and the museum’s first director Hilla Rebay encouraged founder Solomon R. Guggenheim to begin collecting Kandinsky’s work in 1929 and to meet Kandinsky at the Bauhaus Dessau in July 1930. This introduction initiated an ongoing acquisition period of Kandinsky’s art, with more than one hundred fifty works ultimately entering the museum’s collection, making it the largest collection of Kandinsky works in the United States and the third largest collection in the world. Since the 2004 exhibition An Inaugural Selection, the Guggenheim’s Kandinsky Gallery has primarily featured a rotating selection of focused presentations of Kandinsky’s work, arranged by theme, period, location of production, and medium.

About the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
Founded in 1937, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation of art, primarily of the modern and contemporary periods, through exhibitions, education programs, research initiatives, and publications. The Guggenheim network that began in the 1970s when the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, was joined by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, has since expanded to include the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (opened 1997) and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi (currently in development). Looking to the future, the Guggenheim Foundation continues to forge international collaborations that take contemporary art, architecture, and design beyond the walls of the museum, including with the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative, and with The Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation. More information about the foundation can be found at guggenheim.org.

Visitor Information
Admission: Adults $22, students/seniors (65+) $18, members and children under 12 free. The Guggenheim’s free app, available with admission or by download to personal devices, offers an enhanced visitor experience. The app features content on special exhibitions as well as access to more than 1,500 works in the Guggenheim’s permanent collection and information about the museum’s landmark building. A verbal imaging guide for the collection is available for visitors who are blind or have low vision. The Guggenheim app is sponsored by Bloomberg

Museum Hours: Sunday–Wednesday 10 am–5:45 pm, Friday 10 am–5:45 pm, Saturday 10 am–7:45 pm, closed Thursday. On Saturdays, beginning at 5:45 pm, the museum hosts Pay What You Wish. For general information, call 212 423 3500 or visit the museum online at guggenheim.org and guggenheim.org/connect.

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#1346
June 25, 2014

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION CONTACT
Lauren Van Natten
Associate Director, Media and Public Relations

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
212 423 3840
pressoffice@guggenheim.org

Vasily Kandinsky, Landscape near Murnau with Locomotive (Landschaft bei Murnau mit Lokomotive), 1909. Oil on board, 50.5 x 65.1 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York 50.1295 © 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris

 

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