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Weilheim - marienplatz
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About the item

Painted in 1909, Weilheim-Marienplatz is a strikingly colourful depiction of the main market square 'Marienplatz' in Weilheim, a small town in Upper Bavaria. Weilheim and Murnau were linked by a train connection which allowed Kandinsky who was living in Murnau to travel easily to this near by local Bavarian town. The painter moved together with Jawlensky, Münter and von Werefkin to Murnau in 1908, where they were captivated by the charm of the traditional small Bavarian towns and the nature surrounding Murnau. The depicted site shows the market square of Weilheim with its traditional brightly coloured houses and the 'Mariensäule' (Mary Column) which gave the square its name when it was erected in the late 17th century. Contemporary Weilheim still seems to preserve the spirit of the days when Kandinsky visited the town. In the present work Kandinsky captured the town's charming features with his characteristic bold brushstrokes. The colourful facades and romantic atmosphere of the Bavarian towns not only fascinated Kandinsky, but also the other artists who founded the 'Blaue Reiter' group in 1911.\n\nThe weeks Kandinsky spent in Murnau and Upper Bavaria in 1908 and 1909 were among the most pivotal in the development of his art. The picturesque scenery of the countryside around Murnau gave his paintings a renewed energy. The liberty taken with colour by the Fauve painters, whose works Kandinsky had seen in Paris in 1905-07 had been a revelation, pointing the way towards the invention of a pictorial language that would free painting from the object. In Murnau, Kandinsky was able to build on that experience, and to understand, just as Matisse and Derain had understood, how to formulate an abstraction from nature (fig. 4). Townscapes, such as the present one, are characterised by a simplification of forms which gave way to Kandinsky's chromatic abstract works of 1910.\n\nKandinsky's companion during this time in Murnau was the painter Gabriele Münter, and they met with two other painter friends, Marianne von Werefkin und Alexej von Jawlensky. Münter remembered this period of the four of them working together as 'very beautiful, interesting and joyful, with numerous discussions about art' (quoted in Andrea Witte, 'Alexei von Jawlensky et Wassily Kandinsky; Rapports avec le neo-impressionnisme' in Signac et la liberation de la couleur, Paris, 1997, p. 260). Jawlensky introduced Münter and Kandinsky to the local tradition of glass painting, an art form that was to make a great impact on Kandinsky's art. His response to the simplicity and forcefulness of folk-art is apparent here in the way the brightness of the reds, yellows, pinks and greens glow out from the darker colours surrounding them. Although a certain fidelity to first-hand observation is still predominant, the abstract element is beginning to assert itself over nature in the confident, resonant dabs and lines of pure colour.\n\nThe influence of Fauve art is clearly visible throughout Kandinsky's paintings of the Murnau period. The Fauves had exhibited for the first time as a group in 1905, at the Salon d'Automne in Paris in which Kandinsky and Jawlensky had also taken part. The expressive colouring used by Matisse, Dufy and Vlaminck (fig. 3) now became a means, in Kandinsky's hands, to render the object increasingly insignificant. He admired both Picasso and Matisse and the daring colours of the Fauves, and must also have sympathised with the painter and theoretician Maurice Denis, one of the precursors of the Symbolist movement, who made the famous statement: 'A picture - before being a horse, a nude or an anecdotal subject - is essentially a flat surface covered with colours arranged in a certain order' (quoted in Ulrike Becks-Malorny, Wassily Kandinsky, Cologne, 2003, p. 30).\n\nWeilheim-Marienplatz can therefore be seen as a result of the influence of contemporary French painting and Bavarian folk art on Kandinsky's work but also as an outcome of his Russian artistic heritage. The use of bright colours, the composition of the work and the style can be related to his series of depictions of town scenes in Murnau, Munich and other places in Bavaria (figs. 1,2,5). To capture the outline of the houses or the column of the market square were only a means to create something that goes beyond the capturing of objects, but moves towards an abstract understanding of a painting as a work of art and not simply as a representation of reality. Like the Fauve painters, Kandinsky used colour as a means of expression. In 1909 the painter employs a striking palette whose powerful, impastoed colours serve more than the simple description of objects. The advanced almost two-dimensional quality of the composition and the use of linear brush strokes reflect the influence of the technique of glass painting and the brushwork used by post-impressionist painters, such as Van Gogh. Weilheim-Marienplatz is therefore not only a strong example of the artist's significant Murnau period but already heralds Kandinsky's transition towards abstraction which ultimately made a major contribution to the development of Modern Art.
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medium

Oil on board

creator

Wassily Kandinsky

dimensions

33 by 44.7cm., 13 by 17 5/8 in.

exhibition

London, Marlborough Fine Art, Kandinsky: The Road to Abstraction, 1961, no. 27, illustrated in colour in the catalogue New York, Stephen Hahn Gallery, 1964

literature

Hans K. Roethel and Jean K. Benjamin, Kandinsky Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Pantings 1900-1915, London, 1982, vol. I, no. 318, illustrated p. 299

provenance

Gabriele Münter, Munich (acquired from the artist) Hans Konrad Roethel, Munich Marlborough Fine Art, London (acquired from the above on 15th February 1961) New Gallery, New York (acquired from the above on 30th April 1961) Eugene V. Thaw, New York Private Collection, New York Private Collection, Germany Acquired from the above by the present owner

time_period

Painted in 1909.

creator_nationality_dates

1866-1944


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.


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