Ascending Wassily Kandinsky Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Kandinsky continued his use of abstract lines and shapes with this watercolour from 1929 whose original German title of Aufsteig, which translates as Ascending.

Although lesser known within the artist's career as a whole, it does follow a distinctly similar pattern to several more famous Kandinsky paintings. The geometric curves remind us of mathematical experiments and the straighter, triangular lines in the bottom left of the composition form what appears to be a mountain range. To create something recognisable from so few details is a mark of brilliance. Composition VIII, Transverse Line and Between Heaviness and Lightness are three similar paintings from this artist which are also worth learning more about.

The largest expanse of this piece would appear to be a cat - demonstrated by the ears which point out from the top plus the whiskers which appear as a hash symbol. It is truly abstract, but once you have the idea of a cat in your mind, it is hard to see anything else. Perhaps the blue creature to the bottom right is a bird, but it more resembles a whale, with darker blue fins. In truth, we are not sure because this is not of the artist's most famous paintings and any comments he made on it would probably have been left untranslated from their original German text.

Some art critics have come to the conclusion that the bird is indeed the subject in the bottom right, pointing to the vertical line which they argue is a small branch being used to create a new nest. Again, once we get this idea in our head, it is hard to see any other suggestion as true. The combination of cat and bird would of course make sense, too, balancing the composition between hunter and the hunted. Thankfully, in this painting, the cat appears to be asleep at this point! This artist is well known for combining great precision with gas-like masses of colour that drift across a scene. His cat and mouse, for example, are very well defined with sharp black lines, but the forms created by them are filled in with gradient tones of colour. The style found here is typical of the artist, but the content gives an example of something a little different.