Improvisation 26 (Rowing) 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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Long lines of black paint refer in this piece to rowing, with the figures themselves delivered in an abstract form which takes some time to decipher. Improvisation 26 (Rowing) is not one of Kandinsky's most famous paintings, but still intriguing none the less.

We find a figure nearest us in a red outline, as Kandinsky works on his truly expressionist approach where reality is constructed in abstract form. Some of our observations may be incorrect, but there appears to be a bird flying above, passing a small sun in the far distance. This was an artist in his most experimental at this stage, working with wild brushstrokes that created form but in a way that was very separate from its appearance in real life. Many would be unable to understand these compositions, but the title of Improvisation 26 (Rowing), plus our own understanding of other works from around this period, help us to fill in some of the blanks. This was an artist who rejected traditional art styles, and so it is not surprising that we find it difficult in some circumstances to understand just quite what is going on within the composition.

Tones of blue, green and red provide a great contrast with the darker lines that create form. This is entirely typical of a series of paintings produced by Kandinsky between 1910 and 1911 that he called his improvisations. This, clearly, was the twenty sixth of these are carries the term of rowing in the title in order to give us just a clue as to what can be found within the composition. He would regularly title artworks with iterative numbers and that was also seen with some other artists of the 20th century. They would like to allow the viewer to avoid taking the lead from the title, and so gave ambigious titles which left the viewer having to decide on what they were looking at themselves.

This painting is actually dated at 1912 and is believed to now be in the collection of the The Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, Germany. They actually specialise in artists from the city itself, but have a broader selection of other regional artists, including Franz Marc, The Tiger 1912, Blue Horse I, August Macke (Promenade 1913), plus also Still Life with St. George 1911 by Gabriele Münter. Kandinsky's Impression III Concert can also be found here, as well as more contemporary art from around the world which has been acquired from a combination of private purchases and generous donations from local collectors.

Improvisation 26 (Rowing) in Detail Wassily Kandinsky