Guggenheim Announces Kandinsky Painting with White Border Exhibition

Extensive Conservation Study Undertaken on Painting with White Border (1913) Reveals New Details

Vasily Kandinsky, Painting with White Border (Bild mit weissem Rand), May 1913 Oil on canvas, 140.3 x 200.3 cm Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection, By gift 37.245 © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris

Completed nearly 100 years ago, the canvas Painting with White Border (Bild mit weissem Rand, May 1913) by Vasily Kandinsky (1866–1944) was inspired by a trip the artist took to Moscow in fall 1912. Upon his return to Munich, where he had been living intermittently since 1896, Kandinsky searched for a way to visually record the “extremely powerful impressions” of his native Russia that lingered in his memory. Over a period of five months, he explored various motifs and compositions in study after study, moving freely between pencil, pen and ink, watercolor, and oil. After he produced at least sixteen studies, Kandinsky finally arrived at the pictorial solution to the painting: the white border. This focused exhibition, co-organized with the Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., will reunite for the first time the Guggenheim’s final version of the painting from May 1913 with twelve related drawings and watercolors and one major oil sketch and will feature the results of an extensive conservation study of the Guggenheim and Phillips paintings. This study revealed a previously unknown painting beneath the surface of the Phillips’s Sketch I for Painting with White Border (Moscow) (Entwurf I zu Bild mit weissem Rand [Moskau], 1913). A rare glimpse into Kandinsky’s creative process, this presentation reveals the gradual and deliberate way the artist sought to translate his ideas into a bold new language of abstraction.

Kandinsky’s Painting with White Border is organized by Tracey Bashkoff, Curator, Collections and Exhibitions, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and Elsa Smithgall, Curator, the Phillips Collection. It will be on view at the Guggenheim Museum from October 21, 2011, to January 15, 2012, following its presentation at the Phillips Collection from June 11 to September 4, 2011.

This exhibition is supported by a grant from the Joseph and Sylvia Slifka Foundation. The conservation study, research, and treatment of Painting with White Border have been made possible through the generous support of Friends of Heritage Preservation.

Kandinsky and the Guggenheim
Kandinsky’s work is a cornerstone of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s collection. The museum’s founder, industrialist Solomon R. Guggenheim, began acquiring Kandinsky’s paintings, including Painting with White Border, as early as 1929. Today, the Guggenheim’s holdings of his work are among the most extensive in the world. In 2009, as part of its 50th anniversary celebration, the museum mounted the major retrospective Kandinsky. The opening date of Kandinsky’s Painting with White Border at the Guggenheim Museum coincides with the 52nd anniversary of the Frank Lloyd Wright– designed building, which opened its doors to the public on October 21, 1959.

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