Chris Miller reviews Kandinsky: A Retrospective at the Milwaukee Art Museum, on view through September 1, 2014.
Miller writes that "The Centre Pompidou’s Kandinsky collection, currently in Milwaukee, offers a rare opportunity to see work that both precedes and follows the painter’s Blaue Reiter period (1911-1914) that is so well represented at the Art Institute of Chicago. But limited as it is to pieces that the Kandinsky family could not or would not sell, it’s not the kind of retrospective that assembles the best art. Nevertheless, the quality of his early landscapes is surprising. Kandinsky was sensitive to the textures of paint and his colors were already well tuned. Even when painting a nearly monochrome stretch of sandy beach, his sharp drawing makes the scene snap with excitement. His Blaue Reiter pieces in this collection, the 'Improvisations' of 1909 and 1911, are overwhelmed by the raw excitement of Franz Marc’s 'Large Blue Horses,' from 1911, hanging beside them. But if this show had drawn from other collections, Kandinsky’s four ecstatic Campbell panels from MOMA, for example, would have reversed the comparison."