Unrecorded Senufo artist
first half of 20th century
Vasily Kandinsky here achieves an effect of energy rising upward, while anchoring the forms together by balancing them on either side of a continuous vertical line. Geometric shapes and sections of circles combine in a structure suspended in a field of rich turquoise and green. A partial circle rests delicately on a pointed base. Another fragment of a circle glides along its vertical diameter, reaching beyond the circumference of the first form to penetrate the space above it. A linear design in the upper right corner of the present canvas echoes the vertical thrust of the central motif. This configuration resembles the letter E, as does the black cutout shape at the base of the central motif. These forms may at once be independent designs and playful references to the first letter of Empor, the German title of the painting.
The physiognomic character indicates Kandinsky’s association at the Dessau Bauhaus with fellow Blaue Vier artists Paul Klee and Alexej Jawlensky. Jawlensky showed sixteen abstract heads in an exhibition of the Blaue Vier in 1929, which offered Kandinsky the model of large, abstract faces composed of geometric planes of non-naturalistic color and accented by bar-shaped features. However, Kandinsky’s working method more closely resembled that of Klee, who began with intuitively chosen forms that gradually suggested counterparts in the natural world, than that of Jawlensky, who began with the model and moved toward abstraction.