The relationship that exists between the work of the celebrated Russian artist Vasily Kandinsky and the Guggenheim Foundation is one of the strongest associations in the history of the modern art of the 20th century. Solomon R. Guggenheim considered Kandinsky his favorite painter within the abstract movement, following the advice of the German artist Baroness Hilla von Rebay, first director of the Guggenheim Museum.
To celebrate this valuable association, the Guggenheim Museum presents a solo exhibition dedicated to Kandinsky’s oeuvre, which includes part of Museum’s collection and is organized chronologically to illustrate the conceptual development of the artist. More on art and culture.
Undoubtedly the Baroness Hilla von Rebay should receive credit and praise for this collection. She encouraged the acquisition of the works and visited the Bauhaus school in Germany, where Kandinsky taught the theory of shapes and colors to both beginners and experts, based on his existentialist vision of the expressive function of art in society.
The intellectual and expressive aspect of Kandinsky’s work mesmerized the art world in the early 20th century and continues to do so today. His contribution and commitment to the abstract movement was founded on the principle that to express art, the artist had to put aside his or her feelings and sensations, seeking to express the essential reality that lies behind the material world and constitutes the real existence— a concept borrowed from Theosophy, a philosophical and esoteric theory that captivated the artist.
From there, Kandinsky developed his theory of colors and forms, identifying meanings and vibrations for each and relating them to musical language, which he understood as a pure and expressive form related to abstraction.
According to Kandinsky, the artist is at the tip of an upward pyramid representing the passage of time, what today is avant-garde, tomorrow will be common. Therefore, as he enters the pyramid, the artist must stay in this original vertex for his expression to be genuine.
In one of the letters exchanged between Rebay and the artist, the Baroness describes Mr. Guggenheim’s admiration for these works: “Mr. G. was able to see the works created by my friends Léger, Glizes, Braque, Delaunay, Chagall, and Mondrian, but he still continues to admire your work over the others. As you meet him, you will find a great man, fine and sensitive, able to truly appreciate everything that shows quality and virtue. Just a year ago he did not know abstract art because it is not a style that can easily be found in New York.
While these letters were intended to set up a meeting, the admiration Mr. Guggenheim felt for the work of Kandinsky was genuine, which explains the avidness with which the collector acquired his works. He ended up buying more than 150 original pieces.
This splendid exhibit is on view until the spring of 2016. The show allows art lovers to appreciate up close all the expressive concepts substantiated by the artist, which constitute the nature of one of the most recognized museums in the world, the Guggenheim in New York. ■