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Vasily Kandinsky: Around the Circle

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Twenty-first-century Kandinsky: a reappraisal of the Russian abstractionist’s art, life and thought through the extraordinary collection of the iconic museum.

One of the foremost artistic innovators of abstraction in the 20th century, Vasily Kandinsky sought to liberate painting from its ties to the natural world and promote the spiritual in art. This richly illustrated publication looks at Kandinsky anew, through a critical lens, reframing our understanding of this vital figure of European modernism, who was also a prolific aesthetic theorist and writer.

A series of thematic essays considers his engagement with avant-garde artistic communities including the Bauhaus, his relationship to improvisation and music, his travels in Europe and Russia, and the influences behind his self-declared anarchist mode of abstraction, among other topics. Tracing Kandinsky’s life and work through his years in Moscow, several cities in Germany, and Paris, the texts offer striking new insights into an artist whose creative production and style were intimately tied to a sense of place—and displacement—and evolved amid the political and social upheavals catalyzed by the Russian Revolution and World Wars I and II.

Kandinsky’s history is closely linked to that of the Guggenheim Museum. Solomon R. Guggenheim began collecting the artist’s work in 1929; a year later, they met at the Bauhaus, in Dessau. This book features more than half of the museum’s deep holdings of works by Kandinsky, presenting the full arc of his artistic development and career. Included are paintings in oil and oil with sand, reverse-glass paintings, as well as woodcuts, watercolors and drawings on paper. An illustrated chronicle of Kandinsky’s life and career, including selected exhibitions and publications, rounds out the volume.

Edited with text by Tracey Bashkoff, Megan Fontanella. Text by Mark Antliff, Patricia Leighten, George E. Lewis.

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