Tempered Elan 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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Tempered Elan is a charming artwork from Wassily Kandinsky. It is classified as biomorphic abstraction and was completed in 1944, right at the end of the artist's career.

Wassily Kandinsky would alter his style across his career, changing the levels of abstraction with which he worked. By the end of his career he had simplified things down to arrangements of form with single tones and a very precise use of line. The result were almost mathematical in appearance, akin to a diagram or graph. He was also highly skilled in colour throughout his lifetime, having studied theories on this topic as a student. He would contrast black and red throughout most of this painting whilst keeping detail relatively simple across this small painting (around half a metre tall and wide). Many viewers will take different things from paintings such as this, and see different things within the abstract forms. That is one of the positives and negatives of this style, where things can become very subjective but this also encourages discussion, just as the artist might have wished to foster.

From a personal viewpoint, the shapes found here look most like a cross section of marine life, going about their daily lives. This provides a tranquility to the piece but there is no guarantee that the artist had this topic in his own mind when putting the composition together.

This piece was painted onto cardboard and is now in the collecton of the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. Despite competition from the likes of the Louvre and the Musee d'Orsay, the Pompidou still attracts huge numbers of visitors every year and ranks as one of the best venues in the world from which to see some of the best contemporary art. They actually host a good array of some lesser known artworks from Kandinsky's career and are worth visiting purely on that basis alone, though there are also other notable painters and sculptors featured here besides just him, such as Robert Delaunay, Otto Dix, Frida Kahlo and Piet Mondrian. The overall collection provides an excellent survey of 20th century art and allows one to see the variety delivered during this innovative period in recent art history.