Composition no.8, 1923 by Wassily Kandinsky


Composition no.8, 1923


Wassily Kandinsky

Ref SPT8701
Type Print
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Composition no.8 by Wassily Kandinsky is small oil on canvas painting dating from 1923. During the spring of 1929, Solomon and Irene Guggenheim accompanied Hilla Rebay, an artist who would later become the first director of the Guggenheim Museum, on a European tour. Introduced to Kandinsky in the artist’s studio in Dessau, Germany, Guggenheim purchased Composition 8, the first of more than 150 works by the artist to enter the collection. As the name implies, it is the eighth in a series of paintings, begun in 1911, in which the artist expresses what he is trying to achieve. Kandinsky wanted to explore the medium of painting rather than be concerned with subject matter. His goal was to paint what music sounds like. Kandinsky regarded Composition no. 8 as the high point of his post-war achievement. In this work circles, triangles, and linear elements create a surface of interacting geometric forms. The viewer is immediately struck by the large concentric circles at the top left of the picture. The two inner circles are perfect circles, while the outer has a fuzzy outline. The importance of circles in this painting foreshadows the dominant role they would play in many subsequent works. The rest of the painting is comprised of other circles, semi-circles, triangles, squares, parallelograms and other shapes. Coloring throughout the painting is subtle, except for the striking black and purple of the top left circle.