Composition no. 4 was painted in 1911 and is the fourth of a series of paintings by Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky. The paintings he entitled Compositions explore the artist’s attempts to represent a form of music through the medium of painting.
The painting is in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. Apart from his artistic work, Kandinsky was also a prolific writer, and he explained in great detail what he was trying to achieve in these compositions. He did not want his paintings to be representational. Instead, he used an abstract style to convey emotional and spiritual meanings.
Composition IV is a symphony of confused shapes and colors. Many of the shapes evoke ideas of musicians and musical instruments. The painting is divided abruptly in the center by two thick, black vertical lines. On the left, a violent motion is expressed through the profusion of sharp, jagged and entangled lines. On the right, all is calm, with sweeping forms and color harmonies. Composition IV works on multiple levels: initially, the colors and forms exercise an emotional impact over the viewer, without need to consider the representational aspects.
The artist had become frustrated working on it. While he was out, fellow artist Gabriele Münter tidied his studio, and turned the painting sideways. When he saw it, Kandinsky then realized this was what he had been trying to achieve.
The print is hand numbered and accompanied by a certificate signed by the Master Printer and bearing a matching number to the print.
Born in Moscow in 4 December 1866, Wassily Kandinsky was one of the most important pioneers of abstract art.
It took Kandinsky 10 years to find his bearings. His first works are representational, utilising impressions from his travels. He produced, in 1910, Europe’s first abstract painting, which was a completely non-representational watercolour.
The first peak in Kandinsky’s career is marked by the 7 large Compositions and about 40 Improvisations painted between 1910 and 1914. I
The second peak was attained with the series of circle pictures which Kandinsky executed while teaching at the Bauhaus in Weimar and Dessau between 1923-26. This was the so called ‘cool’ period, which many of Kandinsky’s earlier admirers found hard to assimilate.
The advent of Nazism in 1933 drove Kandinsky out of Germany to Paris, where he spent his remaining years and where he eventually became a French citizen. It was here that he attained his third and last peak, where his Russian and Mongolian side found expression.