Wassily Kandinsky [1866-1944]

Ein Zentrum (A Centre)

Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) is, together with Kazimir Malevich (1879-1935) and Piet Mondrian (1872-1944), one of the pioneers of abstract art. Well over a hundred years ago, Kandinsky walked into his studio and saw a weird and unusual painting. As it turns out, it was one of his own works topsy-turvy. Yet he is taken by its incredible beauty. At that moment he realizes the power of abstraction, or so the legend goes.

Kandinsky is born in Moscow and has already finished law school when he starts art academy in Munich. In 1911 he organizes with Frans Marc and other artist friends the exhibition Die erste Ausstellung der Redaktion des Blauen Reiters, where they show their own, largely expressionist work. The group of artists have been known as Der Blaue Reiter ever since. Kandinsky paints the work Ein Zentrum in Weimar, more than twelve years after Der Blaue Reiter was found. In the meantime he has become a teacher at the famous Bauhaus school. Over there his work becomes increasingly abstract and geometric, as a result of the influence of the Russian avant-garde and other Bauhaus-artists.

For Kandinsky the question how the different senses influence both each other and his work is crucial. Especially music plays an important role. Through music he experiences synthesis: a harmony of the senes. This means that he experiences the tones and colours as a union: he 'sees' for example the colour yellow when he hears a trumpet play the C-accord. Accords on a piano produce vibrations as do colour combinations. Kandinsky is inspired by Arnold Schönberg's atonal music. In his famous book Über das Geistige in der Kunst (1912) Kandinsky argues that colour and sounde have psychological effects on the human soul. Every colour speaks its own language and has its own form and soul. He calls the powerful effect of colour and sound on the human psyche 'inner sound'.

Kunstmuseum Den Haag has a rich collection of German expressionism, including five paintings by Kandinsky. Furthermore the museum owns prints by Kandinsky and works by other members of Der Blaue Reiter, like Franz Marc, August Macke and Alexej von Jawlensky. The expressionists of Die Brücke are also represented, with works by the likes of Max Pechstein, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff.

height 140.7 cm
width 99.8 cm
oil on canvas
Production place
Weimar (Germany)
Object number
Kunstmuseum Den Haag – long-term loan from the Guggenheim Museum, New York