Zoom Into Kandinsky's 'Black Spot'

Get up close to this cosmos of color from Kunsthaus Zürich

By Google Arts & Culture

Black Spot (1921) by Wassily KandinskyKunsthaus Zürich

In Black Spot (1921), Kandinsky gives us a cosmos of colors and forms. The individual elements combine as in a symphony orchestra to create a dynamic ‘sound’ on the canvas.

The black lines – parallel diagonals and rhythmic oscillations – are overlaid like a grid over the cloudy white surface and connect the various zones of the picture to one another.

The red, yellow and blue forms provide a counterpoint.

As the abstract shapes oscillate with each other, viewers begin to resonate with the vibrations of their own souls, as if listening to music. For Kandinsky, this seems to have been the key to understanding the basic vibrating structure of the universe. 

Next to Piet Mondrian, Wassily Kandinsky is the 20th century’s leading exponent of the Abstract school. Kandinsky joined the movement in 1910, setting out his reasoning in the theoretical treatise ‘Das Geistige in der Kunst’ (‘Concerning the Spiritual in Art’).

Kandinsky’s Black Spot is thought to be one of the last pieces he created in his birthplace of Moscow, where he first encountered works by Impressionists while a young legal scholar. Claude Monet’s famed Haystacks – of which the Kunsthaus owns a version – perplexed and enraged him in equal measure.

According to his thinking at the time, painters did not have the right to represent objects in such a way as to make them unrecognizable. He was as yet unaware that he would go much farther than that in his own artistic expression.

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