Wassily Kandinsky Landscape with Factory Chimney 1910

Wassily Kandinsky
Landscape with Factory Chimney 1910
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
Gift, Solomon R. Guggenheim, 1941

Over the next few years, Kandinsky continued to produce landscapes inspired by the scenery of Murnau, but gradually moved away from observed reality towards a more abstracted vision. In Kochel – Straight Road 1909, for example, the sides of the houses, the mountains and the straight road running through the middle are transformed into triangles and pyramids. The colours, too, are simplified. In Painting with Houses 1909 Kandinsky distorts the landscape, tipping the row of houses towards us to create a flattened effect that evokes Bavarian folk art, or the condensed perspective of a child’s painting. He believed that unschooled artists and children had the power to give naïve, undisguised expression to the inner life of things.

During this period, Kandinsky was playing an important role in the artistic life of Munich. In 1909 he co-founded the New Artists’ Association and became its first chairman. After a highly critical response to his work, shown in the Association’s second exhibition in 1910, Kandinsky resigned, and, in 1911, mounted a rival exhibition with the German artist Franz Marc. It was to be the beginning of the highly influential Blue Rider group, which drew together artists from different areas of visual and folk art, music and theatre, united by a desire to express spiritual values in their work.