WASSILY KANDINSKY (1866-1944) Einige Spitzen 27 3/4 x 19 3/4 in (70.5 x 50.2 cm)  (Painted in March 1925)

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Lot 19
Einige Spitzen

Sold for US$ 3,270,312 inc. premium

Impressionist & Modern Art

17 Nov 2020, 17:00 EST

New York

Einige Spitzen
signed with the artist's monogram and dated '25' (lower left); signed with the artist's initials, inscribed with his handlist number, titled and dated 'LK nr 292. 1925. Einige Spitzen Quelques pointes 50 x 70' (on the reverse)
oil on board
27 3/4 x 19 3/4 in (70.5 x 50.2 cm)
Painted in March 1925


  • Provenance
    Galerie Ferdinand Möller, Cologne, no. G.3834.
    Galerie Maeght, Paris.
    The New Gallery, New York.
    Sale: Christie's London, June 24, 1966, lot 82.
    Arthur Tooth & Sons, London (acquired at the above sale).
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1966.

    Erfurt, Angermuseum, Kunstverein, Wassily Kandinsky, April 1925.
    Dusseldorf, Summer 1925.
    Dresden, Internationale Kunst Ausstellung, June - September 1926, no. 518.
    Munich, Neue Kunst Hans Goltz, Kandinsky Jubiläums-Ausstellung zum 60. Geburtstage, 1927, no. 10.
    Bern, Kunsthalle, Wassily Kandinsky, February 21 - March 29, 1937, no. 21.
    London, Guggenheim Jeune, Wassily Kandinsky, 1938, no. 25.
    New York, Galerie Chalette, Kandinsky, November 12 - December 14, 1957, no. 2 (illustrated).
    New York, Galerie Chalette, Construction and Geometry in Painting, March 1960, no. 3 (illustrated in color).

    The artist's handlist II, no. 292.
    W. Grohmann, Wassily Kandinsky: Life and Work, London, 1959, no. 292, p. 335 (illustrated fig. 179).
    H.K. Roethel and J.K. Benjamin, Kandinsky, Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings, vol. II, London, 1984, no. 735, (illustrated p. 690).

    "Of all the arts, abstract painting is the most difficult. It demands that you know how to draw well, that you have a heightened sensitivity for composition and for colors, and that you be a true poet. This last is essential."
    – Wassily Kandinsky

    Einige Spitzen ("Several Points," 1925) by Wassily Kandinsky is truly a masterpiece that encapsulates the artist's formal and philosophical ideals of this period.

    The Bauhaus was established in the spring of 1919 by the architect Walter Gropius with the phoenix-like objective of starting a hopeful new space of innovation from the wreckage and rubble of Germany's defeat in World War I. The school was founded on the radical concept of dissolving the distinction between the fine arts and the applied arts, and every student was taught a compulsory, multi-disciplinary introductory course known as the Vorkurs. The Bauhaus is widely considered the twentieth century's most influential school of art, design, and architecture.

    Kandinsky, along with Paul Klee and Oskar Schlemmer, were amongst the second wave of Bauhaus teachers to join in the early 1920s, when the school was still in its original location of Weimar in central Germany. Kandinsky taught courses in mural painting, design, analytical drawing, and advanced theory at various points in time, and was known by pupils and staff for encouraging particularly lively and animated debate and discussion in his lessons. Importantly, Kandinsky and other teachers of the Bauhaus were only required to teach for five hours each week, granting them the latitude to develop their personal artistic practices. The balance between focusing a set amount of hours on teaching and devoting generous swathes of time to individual research and art projects proved a fruitful symbiotic dynamic which stimulated intellectual growth and evolution. Kandinsky's classroom was a vital crucible in which he tested and expounded upon his theories of color and form.

    Einige Spitzen was painted in 1925, a key year of transition when the Bauhaus moved from Weimar to Dessau. The school would move again to Berlin in 1932 and permanently close in 1933 due to pressure from the Nazi authorities. Although the Bauhaus educational institution was active for only 14 years, it left an indelible mark on Modernism and the trajectory of the arts through the twentieth century and to the present day. Gropius designed a housing estate for the Bauhaus masters at the new Dessau campus, and Kandinsky and his wife Nina shared a house with Klee and Schlemmer, leading to prolific artistic exchange and development. During this period, Kandinsky wrote his second theoretical manifesto, Point and Line to Plane: A Contribution to the Analysis of Pictorial Elements, published by the Bauhaus in 1926, which he considered a logical development of the concepts he first presented in his treatise On the Spiritual in Art (1912).

    The virtuosity of the present lot arises from a discrete confluence of time, place, and person. The 1920s saw a revival of the arts following World War I, as well as a surge of interest in new abstract pictorial forms. Constructivism (in opposition to Expressionism) was fostered in Kandinsky's native Russia, a movement emphasizing composition of form from distilled elements thought to be the most essential and fundamental: line, plane, and color. The locus of the Bauhaus proved to be the most cutting-edge school for fine and applied arts, and Kandinsky was surrounded and encouraged by likeminded, trailblazing peers – not only Klee and Schlemmer, but also Josef Albers, Marcel Breuer, Lyonel Feininger, and László Moholy-Nagy to name but a few. This unique admixture had a decisive influence over Kandinsky during a critical juncture, yielding new complexity and profundity in the accretion of his artistic practice.

    Kandinsky's masterwork Einige Spitzen harmonizes the cerebral and the emotional. This painting exemplifies the artist's hallmark amalgam of science, mathematics, spirituality, and sentiment. Indeed, Kandinsky proclaimed:

    "We are born under the sign of synthesis. The realms of those phenomena we term art...which yesterday were clearly divided from one another, have today fused into one realm, and the boundaries separating it from other human realms are disappearing...The irreconcilable is reconciled. Two opposing paths lead to one goal – analysis, synthesis. Analysis + synthesis = the Great Synthesis. In this way, the art that is termed 'new' comes about...Thus the Epoch of the Great Spiritual has begun." (K.C. Lindsay and P. Vergo eds., Kandinsky: Complete Writings on Art, "Foreword to the Catalogue of the First International Art Exhibition, Düsseldorf" (May 1922), New York, 1994, p. 479)

    Kandinsky began to experiment with combining geometric elements with organically derived forms in his paintings from 1919, the year the Bauhaus was founded. The mathematics of geometry became a universal language for artists of this epoch across Europe who were focusing on abstract art, striving to the goal of absolute painting. By 1923, Kandinsky "consolidated the geometric tendencies that had been developing in his art from 1919 and brought to the fore the schematic construction and other theoretical principles he emphasized in his teaching at the school." (C.V. Poling, Kandinsky: Russian and Bauhaus Years, 1915-1933, exh. cat., The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1983, p. 49). Building compositions from geometric form emptied of symbolism allowed Kandinsky to avoid indicating any concrete subject or meaning. He often titled paintings after a repeating form or predominant color to focus the viewer on pure abstraction.

    Even if Kandinsky endeavored for a final painted abstract artwork and its accompanying title to reveal little beyond the formal surface qualities of shape and color, his corpus of works, including Einige Spitzen, is informed by a rich mélange of scientific theory, theology, and philosophy. Kandinsky was fascinated by astronomy, psychology, and color theory and optics. The interplay of circles on dark backgrounds, a frequent motif utilized by Kandinsky during his time at the Bauhaus, strongly connotes imagery of the stars and planets, and the act of creating a painting becomes analogous to the creation of the universe. Kandinsky's study of color theory and contrasting curved, angled, and straight lines dovetailed with the research of Gestalt psychology, which was integrated into the dialogue at the Bauhaus.

    Einige Spitzen is composed of crisp, vibrant geometrical elements – an acid-green triangle, an ultramarine and aqua diagonal bar of blue – against softly graduated and delicately mottled planes of ochre, red, and rose. Kandinsky's theoretical treatise Point and Line to Plane, drafted during the same time as this painting was executed, comes into full manifestation through Einige Spitzen. The painting illuminates Kandinsky's intensive yet uninhibited exploration of line, color, shape, geometry underpinned by rigorous scholarly theory and research as well as deep emotion. In 1925, Kandinsky explained his impulse toward lyrical Romanticism which belies the cool rationality of geometry:

    "The circle, which I have been using so often of late, is nothing if not romantic. Actually, the coming Romanticism is profound and beautiful...it is meaningful, joy-giving, it is a block of ice with a burning flame inside. If people perceive only the ice and not the flame, that is just too bad. But a few are beginning to grasp this" (C. Harrison and P. Wood, Art in Theory, "The Theory and Organization of the Bauhaus," (1923), Malden, Mass., 2003, pp. 179-180).

    Poetic freedom of emotion and spirituality is not contradictory to logical science and mathematics in Kandinsky's universe. Einige Spitzen's jubilant arcs and harmoniously layered shapes and colors are imbued with the forward-looking optimism of the Bauhaus and the artist.

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  • Kindly note that this lot now has the guarantee symbol, and the estimate is now $1,800,000 – 2,500,000.
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