Wassily Kandinsky was a Russian-born painter who took to painting quite late in life, after a career as a lawyer and an economist. It is said that Kandinsky was offered a promising chair as a Professor in Roman Law at the University of Dorpat, but, turned it down in favor of pursuing a self-taught art career. His sudden spiritual metamorphosis he attributed to seeing a gallery exhibition of Claude Monet’s work, and particularly his painting Haystacks, which 'awakened him to color'.
Wassily Kandinsky eventually studied at art school and started developing his own surreal, impressionistic style soon. Over a ten year period he transformed from an impressionistic painter (see his piece, The Port of Odessa) to what is now regarded as the first Abstract artist.
Throughout his life, Kandinsky’s unique style of painting lent itself to reproduction – and so it has now become relatively easy for a collector to engage with the abstract painter’s work. This is due to his practice of treating painting in terms of musical compositions – they were no longer formal ‘sessions’ wherein an end result was desired (as with portrait or landscape paintings) but instead explorations of themes, emotions, and above all experience. A theme that the later Abstract Expressionist’s take up – each painting can be a snapshot of a mood or a concept, and thus, numerous compositions can be painted throughout the day or season of inspiration to capture the many different moods and emotions felt.
We can see this outpouring of work in the creative ‘seasons’ that Kandinsky himself went through; 1911-14, 1922-33, and his final synthesis as an artist, 1933-44. For the collector this means that there has been a wealth of Kandinsky prints made available at various times or another, through art journals, collections, and periodicals. Some of these are excellent places to start for the collector – consider Will Grohman’s book ‘Life and Work’ by Harry N. Abrams Inc., 1958 – a limited edition retrospective on the father of abstract art, with 920 illustrations, with 41 double-plated colour prints.
When searching for unique prints of Kandinsky, there is actually no better place to start than the German art critic and historian Will Grohmann – who made a career out of studying German Expressionism, and its links to the early abstract, surreal and avant-garde scene. During his life Grohmann published over 500 articles on over 150 artists, and was later lauded as ‘the father of modernism’. His most prestigious work, for the collector would be simply entitled ‘Kandinsky’ published in 1931, through the small art-publishers of Cahiers d'art, Paris. Limited to just 610 numbered copies, Kandinsky supplied woodcut prints, which were colored in to the artists specifications, and the archival book as a whole is encased in slipcase with forward.
Kandinsky, Wassily. Xylographies. Edition Des Tendances Nouvelles (1909). 1000 copies with 5 heliogravure plates reproducing 5 woodcuts by Kandinsky, plus 2 additional woodcuts in reproduction on front and back
Kandinsky, Wassily. Uber Das Geistige In Der Kunst Insbesondere In Der Malerei. Munich: R. Piper (1912). 10 original woodcuts by Kandinsky, 8 plates and 3 tables
Kandinsky, Wassily Grohmann. Kandinsky. Cahiers D'Art (1931). 610 copies with a woodcut by Kandinsky
Kandinsky, Wassily. Conversation De Salon, Un Poeme De Kandinsky Traduit Par Seuphor. P.A. Benoit (1948). 50 copies printed on Ingres paper
Kandinsky, Wassily. Du Spirituel Dans L'Art Et Dans La Peinture En Particulier. Galerie Rene Drouin (1949). color woodcut, several woodcuts vignettes and callotypes illustations
Kandinsky, Wassily ,. Derriere Le Miroir 42. Maeght (1951). 6 woodcuts (including the covers), 3 in color
Kandinsky, Wassily MaxBill. Wassily Kandinsky. Maeght Editeur (1951). Front wrapper is illustrated with a woodcut in colour, Petit Monde
Kandinsky, Wassily Grohmann. Kandinsky Life And Work. Abrams (1958). 920 illustrations
Kandinsky, Wassily. Gegenklange Aquarelle Und Zeichnungen. Koln, Du Mont Schauberg (1960). Kandinsky's watercolours and drawings
Kandinsky, Wassily. Derriere Le Miroir 133/134. Maeght (1962). color lithographs after Franz Marc, Wassily Kandinsky, and Henri Rousseau
Kandinsky, Wassily. Kandinsky Das Graphische Werk. Dumont Schauberg, Cologne (1970). catalogue raisonne, 1,500 numbered copies
Kandinsky, Wassily Marc. The Blaue Reiter / The Documents of 20th-Century Art. Viking (1974). Includes a play by Kandinsky and an essay On the Problem of Form.
Kandinsky, Wassily Lassaigne. Homage to Kandinsky. Leon Amiel NY (1975). with four woodcuts and 20 india ink drawings
Kandinsky, Wassily Lassaigne. Hommage a Kandinsky. Ebeling, Wiesbaden (1976). four woodcuts by Kandinsky
Kandinsky, Wassily Roethel, Hans. Catalogue Raisonne Of The Oil-Paintings. Sotheby (1982). Volume I, 1177 items catalogued in total
Kandinsky, Wassily RoethelHans. Catalogue Raisonne Of The Oil-Paintings. Sotheby (1984). Volume II, 1177 items catalogued in total
Kandinsky, Wassily Barnett. Kandinsky Watercolours. Sotheby (1992). Catalogue Raisonne. Volume One 1900-1921, 80 color and 650 monochrome illustrations
Kandinsky, Wassily Hahl-Koch. Kandinsky. Thames and Hudson (1993). 456 illustrations
Kandinsky, Wassily Barnett. Kandinsky Watercolours. Cornell University Press (1994). Catalogue Raisonne. Volume Two, 1922-1944, 168 color and 815 monochrome illustrations
Kandinsky, Wassily Barnett. A Colorful Life The Collection Of The Lenbachhaus, Munich. Harry N Abrams Inc, Boston (1996). 723 illustrations, 618 in color