“the eye is the hammer”

So yes,  I’m really loving Kandinsky right now.  Maybe I’m finally starting to fall in love with Modern art. They’ve got this astonishing series of four Kandinsky panels at the MOMA, designed originally to surround you in a home’s entryway.

“Color is a means of exerting direct influence upon the soul. Color is a keyboard. The eye is the hammer. The soul is the piano, with its many strings.”  Kandinsky

Panel for Edwin R. Campbell No. 2 Vasily Kandinsky (French, born Russia. 1866-1944)  1914. Oil on canvas, 64 1/8 x 48 3/8" (162.6 x 122.7 cm). Nelson A. Rockefeller Fund (by exchange). © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Panel for Edwin R. Campbell No. 2 Vasily Kandinsky 1914. MOMA, New York

Panel for Edwin R. Campbell No. 4 Vasily Kandinsky (French, born Russia. 1866-1944)  1914. Oil on canvas, 64 1/4 x 48 1/4" (163 x 122.5 cm). Nelson A. Rockefeller Fund (by exchange). © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Panel for Edwin R. Campbell No. 4 Vasily Kandinsky 1914. MOMA, New York

Now, I originally saw these and thought “Four Seasons” and saw the landscape qualities in them. Spring, summer, winter, fall.

My SigO saw music.  The curator’s comments focused on the musical aspects, since Kandinsky was also a classical pianist and delved deeply into the spiritual and musical aspects of his painting.  So I didn’t say much about my alternative interpretation because god knows I don’t want to be “wrong” about art. How embarrassing would that be? Ha!

As it turns out,  a credible art expert takes my view as well, citing sketches Kandinsky made for these panels that show hills, sky, trees, etc.

Can I get a Hallelujah please? The stars aligned and the impossible happened.  We were both”right.” If it can happen once, It can happen again right???

Panel for Edwin R. Campbell No. 3 Vasily Kandinsky (French, born Russia. 1866-1944)  1914. Oil on canvas, 64 x 36 1/4" (162.5 x 92.1 cm). Mrs. Simon Guggenheim Fund. © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Panel for Edwin R. Campbell No. 3 Vasily Kandinsky 1914. MOMA, New York

Panel for Edwin R. Campbell No. 1 Vasily Kandinsky (French, born Russia. 1866-1944)  1914. Oil on canvas, 64 x 31 1/2" (162.5 x 80 cm). Mrs. Simon Guggenheim Fund. © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Panel for Edwin R. Campbell No. 1 Vasily Kandinsky 1914. MOMA, New York


I’m sooo abstracted

Kandinsky – not high on my art must see list.  Primarily because I really didn’t know anything about him or too much about “modern” art or the Bauhaus school,  which he taught at before the Nazi’s closed it in 1933. However the Guggenheim has a whole floor devoted to him that might just turn you into a fan.  You wouldn’t know it at first glance, but a tremendous amount of planning went into the painting below.  It’s the first time that an artist didn’t attempt to paint representationally.

“The sun melts all of Moscow down to a single spot that, like a mad tuba, starts all of the heart and all of the soul vibrating.”

There are perhaps 3-4 color studies he did before painting this as well as a dozen or so sketches which show him trying to figure out placement of the elements.  You can actually feel him struggling with what he wants to express and having a hell of a time working it out.   I love it.  He was trying to capture the soul of his native Moscow in an entirely new art language, abstraction.

I’m not the only one who does a napkin sketch of my life and know it isn’t quite how I wanted it to look.  Struggling to “figure it out.”  In the end he solved his problem by surrounding the core of the painting with a swath of white cloud.  White space.   I’ll take another serving of white space, please.

Vasily Kandinsky, Painting with White Border (Bild mit weissem Rand), May 1913. Oil on canvas, 140.3 x 200.3 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection, By gift  37.245. © 2009 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris

Vasily Kandinsky, Painting with White Border (Bild mit weissem Rand), May 1913. Oil on canvas, 140.3 x 200.3 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection, By gift 37.245. © 2009 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris