GalkaScheyer, Los Angeles, May 1933 - 1945
Nina Kandinsky, Neuilly-sur-Seine
Galerie Beyeler, Basel
Private collection, since 1972
Los Angeles, Los Angeles Museum, The Blue Four, October 1933
Los Angeles, University of California, The Blue Four, November 1933
San Francisco, Museum of Art, Kandinsky Abstractions, 5 May - 9 June 1935
Oakland, Oakland Art Gallery, Kandinsky, January - February 1937
Zurich, Kunsthaus, Wassily Kandinsky, 30 May - 15 July 1984
Berne, Kunstmuseum, Düsseldorf, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Die Blaue Vier, respectively 5 December 1997 - 1 March 1998 and 28 March - 28 June 1998, no. 97, ill.
Andros, Museum of Contemporary Art, Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation, Classics of Modern Art, 27 June - 19 September 1999, p. 116-119, ill. p. 117
Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Fondation Maeght, Vassily Kandinsky, Rétrospective, 4 July - 10 October 2001, no. 94
Will Grohman, Wassily Kandinsky, Cologne, Paris and New York, 1958, pp. 339, 384, ill. 416
Hans K. Roethel and Jean K. Benjamin, Kandinsky Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings, vol. 2 (1916-1944), London, Paris, Munich, 1984, no. 1021, ill.
For Kandinsky, the years he spent in Weimar and Dessau teaching at the pioneering Bauhaus School were extremely creative and productive. However, with the rise of the Nazi party in 1932, the future of this artist of Russian origin seemed to be gloomy. Nevertheless, his anguish and concerns are not visible in the works of that period. Their common characteristic is simplicity: in forms, being less in number and less complex, and in colours, which gained in intensity what they had lost in variety. In April of the same year, Kandinsky signed his work Both striped.
It is difficult to talk about Kandinsky’s work as an artist without seeing him as an art theorist. The quality of writing, the almost mathematical accuracy of his texts may be the reasons why Kandinsky’s intention to convert abstraction into an artistic movement, such as cubism or surrealism, was misunderstood. Let us just say that when he realized that he could never reproduce the world surrounding him as he wished, that nature and art were essentially opposed, Kandinsky felt greatly relieved. Free from any intention of imitating or even recalling nature, his painting gained a freedom that few painters had expressed before him. As for the viewer, he urges him to abandon all other thoughts and entirely immerse himself in these forms, in these colour combinations, the harmony of which is the result of a long and meticulous work.
Therefore, when we examine the work Both Striped – and this is the case for all the so-called “non-objective” painter’s works - it is useless to look for familiar objects. The first thing that captures us in the composition is the sense of calmness, serenity and balance emanating from the whole. The light blue background, painted with small brush strokes and oil dissolved in gouache, contributes greatly to this feeling. By introducing this atmosphere, the painter adds at the same time a sense of coolness and shade, which the painted forms, mainly the two oval shapes whose stripes inspired the title of the work, make brighter. Thanks to a visual impression, regardless of the perspective, they look like they are detached from the background and emerge at the forefront as leading figures. The use of additional colours, such as blue-orange, yellow-violet, green-red, highlights this impression: everything looks airy, elusive. Only triangles and dark shades appease the impression of lightness.
What deeply frightened the Nazi regime might have been Kandinsky’s total freedom, as reflected through his choice to no longer follow nature and combined with his writings, being incomprehensible to anyone who does not read them with care and open-mindedness. For the Nazis, the artist would become one of the leading figures of the so-called “degenerate” art, which would eventually include all the great modern painters from Van Gogh onwards.