Vasily Kandinsky. Two Riders Before Red (Zwei Reiter vor Rot) (plate, folio 4) from Klänge (Sounds). (1913)

Vasily Kandinsky

Two Riders Before Red (Zwei Reiter vor Rot) (plate, folio 4) from Klänge (Sounds)


Not on view
the artist
Woodcut from an illustrated book with fifty-six woodcuts
composition: 4 3/16 x 6 1/4" (10.7 x 15.8 cm); page: 11 1/16 x 10 7/8" (28.1 x 27.7 cm)
R. Piper & Co., Munich
F. Bruckmann A.G., Munich
Book: 300 (signed and numbered); 45 h.c.
The Louis E. Stern Collection
Object number
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Illustrated Book
Klänge (Sounds)
Drawings and Prints
This work is not on view.
This work is part of an illustrated book with 55 other works online.
Vasily Kandinsky has 148 works online.
There are 4,013 illustrated books online.

Vasily Kandinsky's self-described "musical album," Klänge (Sounds), consists of thirty-eight prose-poems he wrote between 1909 and 1911 and fifty-six woodcuts he began in 1907. In the woodcuts Kandinsky veiled his subject matter, creating increasingly indecipherable images (though the horse and rider, his symbol for overcoming objective representation, runs through as a leitmotif). This process proved crucial for the development of abstraction in his art. Kandinsky said his choice of media sprang from an "inner necessity" for expression: the woodcuts were not merely illustrative, nor were the poems purely verbal descriptions. Kandinsky sought a synthesis of the arts, in which meaning was created through the interaction of, and space between, text and image, sound and meaning, mark and blank space. The experimental typography shows his interest in the physical aspects of the book.


Klänge is one of three major publications by Kandinsky that appeared shortly before World War I, alongside Über die Geistige in der Kunst (Concerning the Spiritual in Art) and the Blaue Reiter almanac, which he edited with one of the group's cofounders, Franz Marc. Fearing poor sales, Munich-based Reinhard Piper only reluctantly published Klänge, and Kandinsky had to guarantee the production costs. More than two years after its release, Klänge had sold fewer than 120 copies. The planned Russian version never materialized. The publication was nevertheless influential on other avant-garde artists, and Futurists in Russia and Dadaists in Zurich recited and published some of the poems.

Publication excerpt from Heather Hess, German Expressionist Digital Archive Project, German Expressionism: Works from the Collection. 2011.

Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053;; Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124;;

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information, or have spotted an error, please send feedback to