In the Artist’s Space: Helen Mirren on Vasily Kandinsky

While Dame Helen Mirren was in New York to film her movie Arthur—a remake of the 1981 Dudley Moore classic—she graciously agreed to do a video interview at The Museum of Modern Art. Truth be told, I’m a huge fan of the dame. In addition to being a fantastic actor, she’s beautiful, smart, and completely unpretentious. She’s an art lover, and she is especially enamored of the pioneering abstract paintings of Vasily Kandinsky, whose work is represented in MoMA’s collection and whose “Four Seasons” were very fortuitously on view on the day of her visit (and they still are).

Acquired in 1982, the Panels for Edwin R. Campbell No. 1-4, as they are officially known, were originally commissioned by the founder of the Chevrolet Motor Company for the entrance foyer of his Park Avenue apartment in 1913. This stunning suite of four canvases are thought to represent the Russian master’s take on the four seasons—winter, spring, summer, and fall. And did you know that Helen Mirren is also Russian? Her grandfather, Pyotr Miranoff, settled in England during the Russian Revolution, and that’s where Helen spent her childhood.

Like these amazing works, Helen does not disappoint, and in this interview she talks passionately about her great love of painting—particularly her “lovely friends” the Kandinsky paintings—and about the connections between painting and her work.


His name may sound like Vasily, but it was actually Wassily Kandinsky. I’m surprised no one checked this.

I think this is lovely, and shared Helen Mirren’s thoughts with my students. Thank you, Susan Schuler

@John. Thanks for paying such close attention. This is, in fact, an accepted spelling of the artist’s name (closer to earlier spelling of the Russian, “Vasilij Kandinskij”), and it’s how his work has been labeled at the Museum for quite some time.

Thank you so much wonderful lady. I enjoyed hearing your thoughts. I too love to be close up
so that I can imagine making the brush strokes.
Recently I wanted to be in “The Luncheon of The Boating Party” and cried while sitting in front of it.

por favor hagan traducciones al españal

Wow-how eloquent. Helen Mirren ‘gets’ painters! Loved the description of Kandinsky (seems completely random,but not so…gives the illusion/parallel with acting)and getting up close to the ptg. So wonderful people appreciate Kandinsky,his work is such an inspirtaion to me too!

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