Vasily Kandinsky, Composition 8 (Komposition 8), July 1923
Oil on canvas, 140 x 201 cm
Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection, NY
July 9 – September 7, 2010
Russian artists Vasily Kandinsky (1866–1944) and Kazimir Malevich (1878–1935), considered two of the pioneers of abstraction, separately explored a geometric vocabulary during the course of their careers. Malevich is recognized for his circa 1914 invention of Suprematism, an abstract style expressing universal truths through the interrelationship of color and geometric forms. On the other hand, Kandinsky, who was also interested in the universal qualities of geometry, increasingly utilized geometric motifs in his art in the early 1920s, when he took up a teaching position at the Bauhaus, a school of art and applied design in Germany. Unlike Malevich, Kandinsky insisted that even his most abstract work retained expressive content. Each artist would ultimately reinvent himself yet again at the end of his life: Malevich returning to a representational mode, and Kandinsky’s formal vocabulary altering to feature a softer palette and biomorphic forms. The Geometry of Kandinsky and Malevich examines each artist’s distinctive approach to abstraction through a focused presentation of seven paintings. This exhibition is curated by Tracey Bashkoff, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions, and Megan Fontanella, Assistant Curator.