A black and brown ink drawing on slightly aged paper. Abstract lines and parallel-like hatchings, which look slightly like either eyelashes or crosshatches, form a spiralling composition from the upper right corner of the sheet downwards. The artist marking 'K', circled, and the number '16'. are visible in the bottom left corner.
Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), Untitled, 1916, Brush and India ink on paper. The Courtauld, London (Samuel Courtauld Trust). Gift by Linda Karshan in memory of her husband, Howard Karshan. photo © The Courtauld


Wassily Kandinsky

Over the first year of his exile in Moscow during the First World War, Kandinsky focused entirely on drawing as he moved from the last vestiges of figuration toward pure abstraction 

This drawing balances gestural vigour and control. The composition spirals clockwise from the upper right corner of the sheet, sweeping sprays of eyelash-like parallel hatching into a whirling dance. The musical quality of the line is common to much of Kandinsky’s contemporary work. Although it appears swiftly drawn, the three different applications of ink, which had to dry individually, reveal that he planned and executed the drawing with care. Kandinsky considered his work the visual expression of a spiritual state. This drawing bristles with a dark energy, reflecting the anxieties he must have experienced at the time.  

You might also like

screencap of virtual tour

Gallery Virtual Tours

Explore each floor of The Courtauld Gallery with our virtual tours. Zoom in to look closely at masterpieces from our remarkable collection, from individual brush strokes to the texture of the paint....

See more collection highlights

Explore The Courtauld’s remarkable collection of paintings, prints and drawings, sculpture and decorative arts.

Two men sit across from each other at a table covered with a brown tablecloth, playing cards. Both men wear overcoats and hats, and the man on the left smokes a pipe. They sit inside a wooden building. i Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) The Card Players, around 1892-96, The Courtauld, London (Samuel Courtauld Trust)