Modern and Contemporary Art
Artist: Wassily Kandinsky, Russian, active in Germany and France, 1866–1944

The Waterfall

1909

Oil on pasteboard

70 x 97.79 cm (27 9/16 x 38 1/2 in.)
Gift of Collection Société Anonyme
1941.529
The Moscow-born artist Wassily Kandinsky, along with Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Paul Klee, is one of the most important contributors to the avant-garde movement of the early twentieth century. Kandinsky and Klee were, in fact, fellow students in the Munich Academy, and it was from Munich’s Jugendstil art nouveau milieu at the turn of the century that Kandinsky’s lyrical early style developed. Kandinsky painted The Waterfall at a turning point when he was transforming his naturalist landscapes into the abstract compositions for which he is best known. Inspired by the German countryside of Murnau, near Munich, Kandinsky playfully distorted the landscape’s natural forms to the limits of figuration, creating a fantastical scene that foreshadows the artist’s later lyrical abstractions. The bold color palette of The Waterfall pays tribute to the French Fauvist artists whom Kandinsky admired on his multiple stays in Paris from 1904 to 1906.
Culture: 
Russian
Period: 
20th century
Classification: 
Paintings
Status: 
On view*
Bibliography: 

Collection of the Société Anonyme: Museum of Modern Art 1920 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1950), 2.

Alan Shestack, ed., Yale University Art Gallery Selections (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1983), 72–73, ill.

Robert L. Herbert, Eleanor S. Apter, and Elise K. Kenney, The Société Anonyme and the Dreier Bequest at Yale University: A Catalogue Raisonné (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1984), 356, no. 373, ill.

Ruth L. Bohan et al., The Société Anonyme: Modernism for America, ed. Jennifer Gross, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2006), 195, ill.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.

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