Vassily Kandinsky at the Guggenheim Museum
Great Collection of Kandinsky Art at the Guggenheim
Vassily Kandinsky at the Guggenheim, the first full-scale exhibition of the enormously influential artist in New York City since 1985, is, put simply, the best show we’ve seen here in years. Maybe that isn’t a huge surprise–after all, the Guggenheim owns more of Vassily Kandinsky’s work than it does any other major modern artist–but still, the curators have done a terrific job in putting together Vassily Kandinsky’s art at the Guggenheim culling from his momentous life, both from their own collection as well as from the Pompidou Center in Paris and Munich’s Stadtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus.
Almost 100 Vassily Kandinsky Paintings on Display
The sprawling, spectacular heart of this huge show are the nearly 100 Vasilly Kandinsky paintings hanging in the Guggenheim’s spiral rotunda, touching upon every period of Kandinsky’s path-breaking career. We loved the way the show of Vassily Kandinsky at the Guggenheim Museum so clearly portrayed his creative evolution, beginning with his earliest work, exhibited in Paris in the aught years and almost pointillist in technique, on through his time in Moscow, until the cultural close-mindedness of the Revolution finally drove him out. Then comes Vassily Kandinsky’s years at Bauhaus, in Weimar, where he lived next door to his greatest artistic influence, Paul Klee, and where you can see almost all of the softness leaving his works, as hard-edged geometric and organic forms begin to define him as an artist. Finally, after the Nazis shut down the Bauhaus school, Kandinsky returned to Paris, where he remained fiercely committed to the abstract until his death in 1944. Even as broader artistic trends were tilting towards the cubists and impressionists, Kandinsky’s abstract art remained unique.
Vassily Kandinsky at the Guggenheim Museum also does a great job of highlighting the artist’s recurring themes and obsessions. There are his Horse and Rider pieces, and his fascination with the Apocalypse early in his career. It’s fun to see Kandinsky’s Lansdscapes, and his “Music” paintings, become more and more abstract as his career progresses. And, of course there are his stunning, late-period Geometry and his Scientific pieces, which always makes us think of the world’s loveliest petri dish. In addition to this embarrassment of abstract riches, there are also some 60 works on paper included in the Vassily Kandinsky show at the Guggenheim, in one of the large side galleries, mostly done with water color and ink. Not just a throw-away to round out the exhibition, these pieces are playful, fully fleshed out and extraordinary in their own right. In fact, these works on paper are quite possibly our favorite part of the whole show.
Vassily Kandinsky at the Guggenheim details
The Guggenheim, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and one of New York City’s greatest treasures, is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year, and both the exterior and the interior has been spruced. It looks magnificent. Kandinsky at the Guggenheim runs through January 13, 2010. The museum is located on Fifth Avenue and 89th Street, and is open every Sunday through Wednesday, and then on Friday, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:45 p.m., and on Saturdays until 7:45 p.m. Closed Thursday. For more information and online exhibition of the Kandinsky show, visit the Guggenheim NYC website, here.
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