Little Painting with Yellow (Improvisation)

Vasily Kandinsky, French (born Russia), 1866 - 1944

Date:
1914

Medium:
Oil on canvas

Dimensions:
31 x 39 5/8 inches (78.7 x 100.6 cm) Framed: 32 3/4 x 41 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches (83.2 x 105.4 x 6.4 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Modern Art

Object Location:

* Gallery 168, Modern and Contemporary Art, first floor (Kaiserman Gallery)

Accession Number:
1950-134-103

Credit Line:
The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950

Social Tags [?]

music [x]  


[Add Your Own Tags]

Additional information:
  • PublicationMasterpieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Impressionism and Modern Art

    Wassily Kandinsky's statement that "painting is like a thundering collision of different worlds that are destined in and through conflict to create that new world called the work"1 finds colorful expression in this dynamic painting, in which blue, red, and green lines intersect with large areas of yellows, purples, and pinks. One of the founders of Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), a group of Expressionist artists in Munich, Kandinsky was among the first painters to produce abstract works, which he called Improvisations. Inspired by the relationship between music and painting, he valued shapes, lines, and colors as carriers of spontaneous emotional and spiritual expression. Kandinsky created Little Painting with Yellow in Munich just before the outbreak of World War I, which forced him to return to Russia. No doubt affected by the increasingly unstable political environment and his belief in the imminence of the Apocalypse, he painted a whirlwind of explosive lines and colors that suggest both the terror of catastrophe and the elation of rebirth. In his influential essay Concerning the Spiritual in Art (1911), Kandinsky linked certain colors with emotions and sounds. Little Painting with Yellow is a moving combination of repeating rhythmic forms, colorful harmonies, and jarring dissonances. Emily Hage, from Masterpieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Impressionism and Modern Art (2007), p. 132.

    Note:
    1) Wassily Kandinsky, "Reminiscences" (1913), as translated in Kandinsky: Complete Writings on Art, vol. 1, 1901-1921, ed. Kenneth C. Lindsay and Peter Vergo (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1982), p. 373.

  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    Wassily Kandinsky, one of the founders of Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) group of Expressionist artists in Munich, is often considered to have made the earliest abstract paintings, which he called "Improvisations," in 1910. Kandinsky valued abstract shape, line, and color--liberated from their representational role--as carriers of spontaneous emotional and spiritual expression. In fact, however, his early works are neither totally abstract nor totally spontaneous, for many drawn studies exist for the paintings, and they themselves often contain recognizable, albeit schematic, biblical imagery. Little Painting in Yellow, although perhaps verging on complete abstraction, is often considered one of Kandinsky's later "Improvisations." It was painted in Munich just months before the outbreak of World War I, which forced Kandinsky to return to Russia. Given this increasingly unstable political situation and the artist's belief in the imminence of the Apocalypse, the painting's whirlwind of explosive line and color suggests both the delirious and the terrifying qualities of a catastrophic event, a sublime moment of destruction and rebirth. John B. Ravenal, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 312.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.