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Unequal, 1932

Vasily Kandinsky

Russian, 1866-1944
Oil and gouache on canvas
23-5/8 x 27-5/8 in. (60.0 x 70.2 cm)
Norton Simon Museum, Museum Purchase for The Blue Four Galka Scheyer Collection with funds donated by Mr. and Mrs. Alexander P. Hixon
© 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris Reproduction, including downloading of ARS works is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

On view

After moving to Munich at the age of 30 to paint, Russian-born Vasily Kandinsky quickly assumed the role of leader among the city’s avant-garde artists. Coming of age as a painter in this vibrant milieu led Kandinsky to create the first non-objective paintings in the history of art. Originally he was inclined toward the expressionist qualities of color, but by the time he completed a decade of teaching at the Bauhaus and moved to Paris, he began to prize form over color. Nevertheless, his works created during this transitional moment in 1932–33 project a spiritual quality that always rested at the core of his abstract painting. The floating rectangles and glowing orb of Unequal give a sense of objects hovering in space, particularly as the thin brushstrokes of sky-blue give way to the infinite black background beneath. Interestingly, this picture had been purchased by Galka Scheyer but was missing from her collection when it was bequeathed to the Norton Simon Museum in 1953. Lost for nearly two decades, the painting was found and acquired in 1972 and returned to its place alongside the other works of her collection.

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