“Study for Painting with White Form” represents one of several stages in Kandinsky’s efforts to express the spiritual. His painting became increasingly abstract as he restricted his images to pure color and form. In this work, nonrepresentational shapes, colors, and lines dominate; yet, abbreviated references to the outside world are still apparent, as in the upper right where buildings and trees are discernible. Below this, a smattering of lines is an abstraction of a recurring motif in Kandinsky’s work: the mounted horseman, which serves as a symbol for spiritual energy and human potential. The artist’s use of terms borrowed from music, such as “composition” and “improvisation,” point to his fascination with the potential for sounds and colors to evoke one another and to reach the soul via intuition.
Artist Wassily Kandinsky, Russian, 1866-1944
  • Study for Painting with White Form
Date 1913
Medium oil on canvas
Dimensions Unframed: 39 1/4 × 34 3/4 inches (99.7 × 88.3 cm)
Framed: 41 11/16 × 36 15/16 × 2 1/8 inches (105.9 × 93.8 × 5.4 cm)
Credit Line Gift of Mrs. Ferdinand Moeller
Accession Number 57.234
Department European Modern Art to 1950
On View Modern N230.2, Level 2 (see map)
Signed Signed and dated, lower left: KANDINSKY 1913
Galerie Ferdinand Möller (Berlin, Germany).
April 1938, by agreement between Ferdinand Möller and William R. Valentiner, stored at Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA) during WWII.
Collection of Maria Möller-Garny.
1957-present, gift to the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Grohmann, Will. Wassily Kandinsky: Life and Work. New York, 1958, p. 332 and 356, no. 84 (ill.).

Bulletin of the DIA 38, 2 (1958-59): pp. 27-29 (ill.).

What Is Modern Art?. Toledo Museum of Art. Toledo, 1960.

Uhr, Horst. Masterpieces of German Expressionism at the Detroit Institute of Arts. New York, 1982, p. 90 (ill.).