UPPER EAST SIDE — A new exhibit is giving art lovers the chance to view the early works of Vasily Kandinsky, best known for his colorful abstract paintings.
“Kandinsky Before Abstraction, 1901-1911,” which opens at the Guggenheim Museum on Friday and runs through Spring 2015, features 16 woodcuts and paintings from this early period of his career.
Born in 1866, Kandinsky left a legal career in 1895 to pursue his artistic ambitions. He initially explored printmaking, working with different techniques including etching, lithography and woodcutting to produce scenes based on lyric poetry, folklore and memories of his Russian homeland, the museum said in statement.
In 1904, Kandinsky began traveling extensively, visiting Venice, Paris, Amsterdam, Tunisia and Russia. When he settled again in Munich in 1908, he shifted his creative energies to landscape painting. The graphic elements, flattened perspective and black-and-white color schemes that Kandinsky worked with in his woodcuts strongly influenced his painting style, the museum said.
Within a few years, Kandinsky had started to develop the abstract painting style for which he is best known. By 1913, the artist had moved away from representational art and towards the abstract, the museum said.
The Guggenheim has a special relationship with Kandinsky’s work. Solomon R. Guggenheim began collecting Kandinsky’s pieces in 1930, seven years before the Guggenheim Foundation was formed. The Guggenheim ultimately acquired more than 150 of the artist’s works, making it the largest Kandinsky collection in the United States and the third largest in the world.
The show will be on display in the museum’s Kandinsky Gallery, which features a rotating selection of the artist’s work arranged by themes.