Study for the Cover of Der Blaue Reiter Almanach (1911) by Kandinsky, VassilyCentre Pompidou
Almanach Der Blaue Reiter (1911)
Study for the Blue Rider Almanac cover
Watercolor, gouache, and Indian ink on paper, 11 × 8.6 inches (27.9 × 21.9 cm)
Back in Germany, Kandinsky became one of the protagonists of avant-garde painting.
In 1911, together with Franz Marc, he created " a kind of almanac with images and articles made exclusively by artists ."
The aim was to demonstrate that all forms of art, however different they may be, painting, music, as well as folk arts and children's drawings, all tend towards the same direction.
For Marc and Kandinsky, " the question of art is not about form, but about artistic content ." This chronicle of contemporary art can therefore also be read through its iconography, which, alongside its textual discourse, is significant.
For the Almanac sketch, Kandinsky reconstructs his colorful sensations through symbolic iconography, derived from an imaginary world of medieval fables, religious figures, and pagan rituals.
The horseman, a distant echo of the heroic world of chivalry and folk mythology, is a reference to Saint George, protector of Moscow, and, for the shamans that Kandinsky observed in Siberia, symbolic of the passing into other worlds.
In 1911, he decided to name his editorial project Der Blaue Reiter after this figure.
For Kandinsky, the rider is a metaphor for the artist :
" The horse carries its rider with vigor and speed. But it is the rider who guides the horse. Talent leads the artist to high peaks with vigor and speed. But it is the artist who masters his talent " (Regards sur le passé).
On this page, which is one of the 11 studies Kandinsky made for the cover of the first Almanac, the rider appears in full swing, crossing the sheet of paper as an artist leaps across the distance between him and the art awaiting creation.