Vasily Kandinsky. The Night - Large Version (Die Nacht - Grosse Fassung). (1903)

Vasily Kandinsky The Night - Large Version (Die Nacht - Grosse Fassung) (1903)

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Russian-born painter Vasily Kandinsky's involvement with printmaking extends beyond the more than two hundred prints that he executed during his lifetime, to his work as an organizer, teacher, and art theorist. In 1901 he formed the Phalanx Society in Munich, an art school that sponsored exhibitions and provided a forum for printmaking. Ten years later, he co-founded the Blaue Reiter (Blue Rider) group, which published an important almanac with essays and original prints. His own writings included Concerning the Spiritual in Art, in which he details his artistic philosophy of the psychology of color and the "inner necessity" of shapes and compositions, and Point and Line to Plane, which includes a description of the formal and sociological attributes of various print mediums.

Although he worked in a Moscow print shop in 1895, Kandinsky did not make his own prints until 1897. Between 1902 and 1904, he completed more than fifty woodcuts, including The Night, Large Version, which is typical of his romantic, fairytale-inspired images of the time. He soon began working on the fifty-six woodcuts for Klänge, which traces the voyage of Saint George and other knights on their search for truth. It contains the artist's own prose poetry and follows the evolution of his artistic style from figuration, inspired by Russian folk culture, to an expressionist abstraction.

Kandinsky's version of abstraction continued to develop in Russia under the influences of Suprematism and Constructivism. The result was a new, more rigidly geometric, abstract vocabulary that he took with him to Weimar in 1922, when he went to teach at the Bauhaus, the famed German art school. While there he made works such as Orange, which continued his exploration of lithography, the technique that he felt was the most modern print medium because of its malleability, ease of artistic execution, and ability to create large and uniform editions.

Publication excerpt from an essay by Sarah Suzuki, in Deborah Wye, Artists and Prints: Masterworks from The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2004, p. 84–85.
Medium
Woodcut
Dimensions
composition: 11 3/4 x 5 1/16" (29.8 x 12.9 cm); sheet: 14 5/8 x 7 1/2" (37.2 x 19 cm)
Publisher
unpublished
Printer
Vasily Kandinsky, Munich
Edition
at least 13 in six states (state I: 2 known; state II: 5 known; state III: no known proofs; state IV: 4 known; state V: no known proofs; state VI: 2 known hand-printed proofs [this ex.])
Credit
Gift of Mrs. Joseph H. Lauder
Object number
107.1991
Copyright
© 2021 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Department
Drawings and Prints
Provenance Research Project

This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.

Frederick Mulder, London; sold to Estée Lauder, New York, 1991; given to The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1991

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