Kallmunz - Vilsgasse II 1903 signed Kandinsky lower right oil on canvas 24 x 33cm (9 7/16 x 13in).
This work has also been known as Strasse in Starnberg which is incorrect. This Lot is illustrated on page 122 (no.100) of the Kandinsky Catalogue Raisonne (eds. Hans K. Roethel and Jean K. Benjamin)
This lot is accompanied by a photo certificate of authenticity by Dr. Hans K. Röthel, Munich, dated February 19th 1967.
Provenance: Collection of Gabriele Münter, Murnau, Germany Wally Findlay Galleries, Palm Beach, Florida, USA Private Collection, California, USA (acquired from the above)
When in 1902, Gabriele Münter, aged 25, joined an evening life painting class it was to change his life. It was taught by the 36 year old Wassily Kandinsky at the Phalanx School founded a year earlier in Munich by Kandinsky and three other artists, and it was the beginning of a significant artistic and personal relationship for pupil and teacher.
Born in Russia in 1866, Kandinsky trained in law, economics and ethnography. At the age of 30 he left law to work as the director of a print shop making reproductions of artworks. In 1896 he and his wife Anya moved to Munich so that Kandinsky could pursue his love of painting. At the time, Munich was an artistic hub. The visual arts community was strong as a result of the patronage of the Catholic Church and the Bavarian monarchy who sponsored the first public museums in Germany. There was strong encouragement for the arts with reputable teaching institutions, exhibition space and salons exhibiting international art. By the time Kandinsky arrived in Munich the Munich Secession had been founded exhibiting a variety of artistic styles including Impressionism and Symbolism. The Secession played a strong part in the development of Judgendstil, the German equivalent to Art Nouveau that used fluid lines and decorative detail and was move away from the naturalistic detail of the realism of the nineteenth century. Kandinsky enrolled in painting classes taught by Franz von Stuck, a co-founder of the Munich Secession, and through these met a variety of artists and performers. He founded and became the leader of the Phalanx group in 1901, which organized exhibitions including Kandinskys work. Kandinskys poster for the first Phalanx exhibition was in the Jugendstil style depicting ornamental soldiers as an advancing (or avant-garde) force, lances raised against traditional art. It was with this poster that Kandinsky joined the avant-garde of the Munich art world.
Kandinsky was a strong supporter of the avant-garde and believed that art should come from an inner necessity and not depend on external impressions for guidance. He felt art served a spiritual role and as outlined in his essay On the Spiritual In Art he describes the artistic means to serve this role as well as the purpose itself, which was that culture had become too focused on the material and that the spiritual was under threat. At this time Germanys urban centres were growing rapidly and governed entirely by industrial production and material consumption. Germanys first department store opened in 1986 while slums were emerging due to people moving into the urban areas. Kandinskys belief that abstract art had a role in developing the spiritual experience was strengthened by the sociological issues of the time.
Kandinskys early work often shows a nostalgia for Russia and he frequently painted in tempera on board with varnish on the top to give the paintings a mosaic like quality. While Strasse in Starnberg is an oil on canvas this mosaic like quality is visible in Kandinskys use of dappled colour and the indication of brilliant sunshine and shadow. When in the early 1900s Kandinsky travelled frequently with one of his students from the Phalanx school, Gabriele Münter, he and his wife Anya had separated. They often travelled to Murnau in the Bavarian Alps and it was here with the beautiful landscapes and influence from other artists such as Jawlensky that Kandinskys painting transformed significantly. The features of his once discernable landscapes such as mountains and trees become of lesser importance than the picture as a whole, eventually leading to the landscape symbols in his later works. The spirituality of the environment continued to influence Kandinsky and the landscapes around Murnau provided themes for modernist experimentation. His paintings became a less realistic depiction of the Bavarian landscape than an emotional response therefore leading to a looseness of form and a greater abstraction of forms.
Bibliography: Kandinsky: The Path to Abstraction, Tate Modern 22 June-1 October 2006 Theory and History: Inner Necessity, p. 3.