German Expressionism

Works from the Collection

Styles Themes Techniques | Artists Print Publishers | Illustrated Books Portfolios Periodicals | Maps Chronology


Search Results

Showing 15 of 612

About this work

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

In the portfolio Stichi bez slov (Verses without words) Vasily Kandinsky leaves the modern world and all its distractions and sails away on Viking ships and down the Rhine to a fairy-tale world filled with gallant mounted riders, elegant ladies, peaceful landscapes, and onion-domed churches. Frustrated with his attempts at writing poetry in German, Kandinsky used these woodcuts to give shape to the nostalgia for his Russian homeland that he found impossible to put into words. As he explained to his companion, painter Gabriele Münter, "I must do them, for I cannot rid myself of my thoughts (or possibly dreams) any other way."

The imagery in these prints was central to the symbolic vocabulary that appeared throughout Kandinsky's work. Five of the woodcuts repeat previous compositions, and Kandinsky returned to five others in later prints and paintings. Most significantly, Kandinsky used the horse and rider motif, his symbol of a warrior for new art, for the first time here.

Kandinsky saw the woodcut medium as being akin to lyric poetry: both forms demanded concentration on the essential. Woodcut pushed him to simplify his imagery; his undulating lines and decorative patterns are in fact potent symbols of longing. These experimentations, prompted by the technical requirements of printmaking, played a crucial role in Kandinsky's development of abstraction.

Vasily Kandinsky (French, born Russia. 1866–1944)

Duel (Poedinok) from Verses Without Words (Stichi bez slov)

Woodcut from a portfolio of twelve woodcuts, one woodcut title page, one woodcut table of contents, one supplementary woodcut and one woodcut colophon
composition: 3 9/16 x 4 15/16" (9 x 12.5 cm); sheet: 3 9/16 x 4 15/16" (9 x 12.5 cm); mount: 12 15/16 x 9 13/16" (32.9 x 24.9 cm)
Cream, smooth, laid (mounted on black, smooth, wove paper).
Stroganov Academy, Moscow
Stroganov Academy, Moscow
unknown (few copies of both the regular edition and the deluxe edition with supplementary woodcut [this ex.]); plus an unknown number in the periodical Les Tendances Nouvelles, vol. 3, no. 29 (February 1907); and one known proof of state II
Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd
© 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Roethel 22.
MoMA Number:
Literary Subjects

Share by E-mail
Share by Text Message