Composition VII

Wassily Kandinsky • Painting, 1913, 200×300 cm
Digital copy: 587.8 kB
1500 × 977 px • JPEG
50 × 33.3 cm • 75 dpi
25.4 × 16.5 cm • 150 dpi
12.7 × 8.3 cm • 300 dpi
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About the artwork
Art form: Painting
Style of art: Abstractionism
Technique: Oil
Materials: Canvas
Date of creation: 1913
Size: 200×300 cm
Artwork in selections: 102 selections
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Description of the artwork «Composition VII»

Created in 1913, Kandinsky's Composition VII is considered one of the greatest masterpieces of abstract art. This work is a logical continuation of the Compositions Vand VI. All three paintings are united by the theme of the Apocalypse. Such elements of the Composition VI as the Flood and the Resurrection can be traced in this work. Its main theme is the last judgment, but it is not seen as disaster but rather as a liberation, the world's transition from the material to the spiritual. Therefore, the Composition VII differs from the other works of the series with its light colors and flashing contrast lines.

Kandinsky built each of his compositions so that the viewer could step into the picture as if rotating inside it. He made the lower edge of the composition heavier, thereby pushing it forward, while the upper part remains lighter and more distant for the viewer. One of the artist’s main contrasts, the blue and yellow make the central zone of active inward and outward movement.

Kandinsky spent many months in preparation for his Composition VII, but it took him only four days to paint it. The artist made about 30 studies of this painting (1, 2). Some of them remind of Caravaggio or Leonardo da Vinci's detailed studies of the folds of fabric, leaves on the trees or human limbs. Some of them repeatedly feature the same curved line, the others schematically show the basic structural elements of the composition, and some of them contain a detailed plan of the composition. In addition there are about 15 different pictures that are related to Composition VII: those are the oil or pencil sketches, watercolors, paintings on glass and engravings.

Gabrielle Munter, who witnessed the creation of this painting, wrote in her diary on November 25, 1913 that the canvas for Composition VII was delivered to their house in Murnau, and Kandinsky set to work the same evening. The following morning she took the first photograph of the painting, and after lunch she took the second one. The November 28 entry in Munter’s diary said that the picture was complete. On the 29 November, she took a picture of the finished work. That was how the birth of a great masterpiece was recorded.

Written by Evgheniya Sidelnikova