Wassily Kandinsky, Battle (Cossacks), 1910-1911
He developed from Impressionism and Art Nouveau to abstract art. As early as 1910, he completed his text On the Spiritual in Art (published in Munich in 1912), in which he summed up the reasons for eliminating depictional elements and described his path to abstract art. His transition from figurative to abstract art, accompanied by a remarkable emphasis on the role of colour in painting, occurred gradually in the years 1910-1914, i.e. when he lived in Munich. His paintings from that period reflect the process of gradual distancing from the depiction of objects, where any connection to them is effaced.
Kandinsky's paintings bring together Western rationalism and the colourful compositional form of Russian art. Done one year before Kandinsky ultimately resorted to genuinely abstract art, the painting Battle (Cossacks), 1910-1911, loaned by the Tate Modern Gallery in London, still retains certain identifiable elements, such as a castle, rider, rainbow or a flock of birds. On the other hand, some elements typical of Kandinsky's best abstract work - the vigorous use of colour, improvised form and dynamic composition - are discernible.
In his paintings from around 1913, objects are totally reduced and the painting becomes a product of the "inner necessity" in which he sees the basic principle of art. Like Kandinsky, František Kupka (1871 Opočno - 1957 Puteaux, France) sought in the same period to fulfil the idea of "absolute painting" that endeavoured to compete with music in the purity of its means. The chance to present a major work by Kandinsky at the National Gallery in Prague offers an additional opportunity to highlight the personality of František Kupka, who also played a major role in shaping abstract art in the early 20th century. Kupka's work is abundantly represented in the permanent exhibition of the Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art in the Veletržní
Battle (Cossacks), 1910-1911
Oil on canvas, 94.5 x 130.2 cm
Tate Modern Gallery, London
Presented by Mrs. Hazel McKinley 1938