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Wassily Kandinsky
1866 - 1944
Russia Improvisation Nr 2, Trauermarsch, 1908
Improvisation No 2, Funeral March
Improvisation nr 2, Sorgmarsch
Oil on canvas
Bildmått: 94 × 130 cm Ram: 98 × 134 × 4 cm
Purchase 1933
NM 2959 This artwork is not on display
- About the work

Wassily Kandinsky is a pioneer of modernism and was one of the founders of the artist group Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider). In 1910, by dissolving the external contexts of the image, he developed an expressionist abstract style of painting, one of the most pivotal and influential breakthroughs in 20th-century art.

Improvisation No 2, Funeral March marks a phase in Kandinsky’s transition to abstract painting. Here, we can still make out figurative elements, such as the yellow rider on a white horse entering the picture from the left, and a seated group of four figures to the right. Their immobile postures contrast sharply with the dynamic quality of the luminous, orange background. The mottled application of paint and the intensity of the colours is reminiscent of the fauvists, whose works Kandinsky had encountered on his visits to Paris. Improvisation No 2 builds on the contrast between blue and orange. Here, figuration defers to the inner expressiveness of colour and shape, generating a rhythmic structure of bright colour fields which balances the primary composition principles of “contrast” and “harmony” against each other.

In his essay Concerning the Spiritual in Art (1912), a seminal document of early modernism, Kandinsky formulates his painterly quest for an imagery without physical figuration that is nevertheless not purely abstract, but with a spiritual subject. The subtitle of this work, Funeral March, alludes to the synaesthetic link between colours and musical notes that is characteristic of Kandinsky’s oeuvre. He called this ink “improvisation”.

- Signature, inscriptions, and markings
- Exhibition history
- Exhibition catalogues
- Bibliography
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