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Wassily Kandinsky, “Dance Curves: On the Dances of Palucca” (1926)

Dancer and choreographer Gret Palucca (1902-1993) was a former student of Mary Wigman, the leading figure in German Expressionist dance. In 1925, Palucca opened her own dance studio in Dresden and developed close contacts with various Bauhaus instructors, many of whom greatly admired her dance style. Wassily Kandinsky’s four “analytical drawings,” which were based on photographs of Palucca by Charlotte Rudolph, illustrate how closely the dancer’s style coincided with the Bauhaus aesthetic. The drawings and photographs were published in the arts journal Das Kunstblatt in 1926. According to Kandinsky, Palucca’s “principal assets” were “1. Simplicity of the whole form, and 2. Construction of the large form.”

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WASSILY KANDINSKY (Russian, 16 December 1866 - 13 December 1944)

Form, in the narrow sense, is nothing but the separating line between surfaces of colour. That is its outer meaning. But it has also an inner meaning, of varying intensity, and, properly peaking, FORM IS THE OUTWARD EXPRESSION OF THIS INNER MEANING.*

* It is never literally true that any form is meaningless and “says nothing.” Every form in the world says something. But its message often fails to reach us, and even if it does, full understanding is often withheld from us.

Concerning the Spiritual in Art, Part VI, 1912

Happy 147th birthday to Wassily Kandinsky!

Born on this day in 1866, Kandinsky’s art and theoretical writings were instrumental to the development of abstraction in the early twentieth century. This lithograph from the Blanton’s permanent collection was made during the artist’s first year as a professor at the Bauhaus, and stands out as one of the few nonfigurative works in a portfolio that includes Surrealist, Cubist, and Futurist works. Using shards of primary color, overlapping geometric shapes, and competing gestural strokes, Kandinsky exploded the idea that expression and content in art depend on the figure. Distributed throughout Europe and the United States, the portfolio of which this lithograph is a part spread revolutionary ideas about the definition and function of art in an increasingly democratic and global society. View a zoomable version of this work on our website.

Wassily Kandinsky, “Bauhaus Prints - New European Graphics, 4th Portfolio: Italian and Russian Artists,” 1922, four-color lithograph from four stones, Gift of Mr and Mrs. Richard Gonzalez, 1989.