Piri Halasz reviews the exhibition Vasily Kandinsky: From Blaue Reiter to the Bauhaus, 1910-1925 at the Neue Galerie, New York, on view through February 10, 2014.
Halasz writes: "I’ve never been a passionate fan of later work by Kandinsky, but I found myself liking some of these paintings better than I’d expected, with the stand-out being the large 'Black Form' (1923). Still, they were no match for the series of large paintings hanging in the large gallery at the west end of the building (backing up on Fifth Avenue, and with a wall text headlined 'Beyond Easel Painting'). This is a dazzling gallery, with a generous selection of the dynamic, and often deeply moving pictures that Kandinsky made at his peak, between 1911 and 1914. During this period, if you believe Rose-Carol Washton Long, Kandinsky was making semi-abstract paintings with imagery derived from Theosophical treatises, including elders, walled cities, riders on horseback, and whatnot. If you don’t go along with this iconography, these are merely the fluid, painterly, free and easy works from the artist’s first and happiest discovery of abstraction."