Vasily Kandinsky. Picture with an Archer. 1909
Vasily Kandinsky

Picture with an Archer

1909
Not on view
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
68 7/8 x 57 3/8" (175 x 144.6 cm)
Credit
Gift and bequest of Louise Reinhardt Smith
Object number
619.1959
Copyright
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Department
Painting and Sculpture

The color in Picture with an Archer is vibrantly alive—so much so that the scene is initially hard to make out. The patchwork surface seems to be shrugging off the task of describing a space or form. Kandinsky was the first modern artist to paint an entirely abstract composition; at the time of Picture with an Archer, that work was just a few months away.

Kandinsky took his approach from Paris—particularly from the Fauves—but used it to create an Eastern landscape suffused with a folktale mood. Galloping under the trees of a wildly radiant countryside, a horseman turns in his saddle and aims his bow. In the left foreground stand men in Russian dress; behind them are a house, a domed tower, and two bulbous mountainy pinnacles, cousins of the bent–necked spire in the picture's center. Russian icons show similar rocks, which do exist in places in the East, but even so have a fantastical air. The lone rider with his archaic weapon, the traditional costumes and buildings, and the rural setting intensify the note of fantasy or poetic romance.

There is a nostalgia here for a time or perhaps for a place: in 1909 Kandinsky was living in Germany, far from his native Russia. But in the glowing energy of the painting's color there is also excitement and promise.

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art , MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 61

Provenance Research Project
This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.
Sold through Galerie Der Sturm (Herwarth Walden), Berlin to Christian Tetzen-Lund (1852-1936), Copenhagen, December 17, 1918 [1]. Acquired by Efraim Lundmark, Stockholm, Sweden, [c. 1930]; sold to Svensk-Franka Konstgalleriet, Stockholm, Sweden, 1957 [2]; sold to Galerie Europe, Paris, 1958; sold to Jacques Lindon, New York, 1958 [3]; acquired by Louise Reinhardt Smith, New York, 1958; The Museum of Modern Art, New York (Gift and Bequest of Louise Reinhardt Smith), 1959.
[1] Roethel 270.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.

If you have any questions or information to provide about the listed works, please e-mail provenance@moma.org or write to:

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Pictured above: Vasily Kandinsky. Panel for Edwin R. Campbell No. 2 (detail). 1914. Oil on canvas, 64 1/8 x 48 3/8" (162.6 x 122.7 cm). Nelson A. Rockefeller Fund (by exchange). © 2009 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

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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@artres.com; artres.com. 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; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

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