Friday, November 16, 2007

Blue Rider (not)

This is a copy I made with gouache of (part of) Wassily Kandinsky's 1909 Improvisation III. You can easily see a six-year stretch of Kandinsky's transformation by comparing the above with his 1903 Blue Rider. Improvisation III is part of the National Museum of Modern Art, Paris collection at the Georges Pompidou Centre.

I copied this out of a neat little History of Artbook. And I do mean little — the book itself measures about 5 1/2in. x 6in. I mention the book to make a note of sources, scholarship and that sort of thing. In the book, this painting is titled "The Blue Rider" and dated to a 1911 exhibit. I thought it was just a later version of the 1903 idea but did wonder why the rider was orange and rose. I trust the listing at the Centre Pompidou because that's where the painting lives and is properly catalogued. I'm guessing that the incorrect title was just a glitch as these sorts of books can be assembled from a variety of sources and the indexing job is often farmed out to a third or fourth party. Still, I have enjoyed this little reference book immensely and without it, would probably not have had this image to copy from. In fact, I could not find a direct link to the original image on line, so if you want to see that, you'll have to go to the museum collection link above, type "Kandinsky Improvisation" into the recherche rapide field and you'll see it in top row. You can double click and enlarge that image. Double click on my copy to enlarge tt. Compare and contrast! (There's another Improvisation III but dated 1914 and prefaced with "Untitled". Obviously a different thing altogether.)

Speaking of Kandinsky, I should say that some of his ideas have been influential in my thinking about and approach to art. His essay On the problem of form from the Blaue Reiter Almanac had tremendous impact on me in my early 20s as did two of his books, Concerning the Spiritual in Art and Point and Line to Plane. I consider all three de rigeur for the art book shelf. Better yet, considering that the Blaue Reiter Almanac is currently out of print (ahem), Kandinsky's Complete Writings on Art.

Oh, and one more thing... I discovered that copying an abstract is a considerably more difficult job than copying a representative piece.

See my paintings at Landscape into Art.

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