Sale: 545 / Evening Sale, Dec. 08. 2023 in Munich Lot 43

Wassily Kandinsky
Murnau, 1908.
Oil on cardboard
€ 1,500,000 - 2,500,000

$ 1,575,000 - 2,625,000

Murnau. 1908.
Oil on cardboard.
Inscribed "Kandinsky - Murnau 1908" by Gabriele Münter on the reverse. 32.9 x 40.5 cm (12.9 x 15.9 in).
This is Kandinsky's first artistic take on a motif that he revisited and developed the same year in the painting "Murnau - Straße mit Frauen" (Roethel/Benjamin 207, Neue Galerie, New York, formerly The Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena). [JS].
• Masterwork from the early Murnau days, the birth of German Expressionism - of museum quality.
• Groundbreaking: Murnau motifs laid the basis for Kandinsky's subsequent path to abstraction.
• Pure Expressionism! Green houses, a pink street, violet shades.
• Similar Murnau motifs are in renowned international collections like the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Neue Galerie, New York, the Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, and the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich

PROVENANCE: Gabriele Münter (directly from the artist).
German art trade.
Wilhelm Reinold, Hamburg.
Galerie Wilhelm Grosshennig, Düsseldorf.
Private collection Southern Germany (acquired from the above in 1977, ever since family-owned) .

LITERATURE: Hans K. Roethel / Jean K. Benjamin, Kandinsky. catalogue raisonné of oil paintings, vol. I, 1900-1915, Munich 1982, no. 206 (black-and-white illu.).

"Colors must be applied not because they exist in nature in that tone or not, but because they are necessary, or not, in that tone for the picture. In short, the artist is not only entitled but obliged to treat the forms so that they serve his purpose."
Wassily Kandinsky, On the Spiritual in Art, 2nd edition, Munich 1912, pp. 115f.

Called up: December 8, 2023 - ca. 18.24 h +/- 20 min.

Murnau am Staffelsee, An Upper Bavarian Collioure?
Murnau, the artist town south of Munich, under the influence of the Fauves, in the run-up to the formation of the 'Blaue Reiter'. "Murnau – Landschaft mit grünem Haus"(Murnau - Landscape with Green House) as Wassily Kandinsky titled his painting of a single building surrounded by crooked fruit trees in front of colorful facades in the background that appear as if they had been pushed behind one another two-dimensionally like a backdrop of pointed silhouettes. Kandinsky added rhythm to the composition with strong colors: lots of warm yellow, dark green, blue, here and there in a mix that suggests cobalt, a strong red, now and then tinted with blue to turn violet. For Kandinsky, these were the prevalent colors of the years 1908 and 1909. We also encounter them in the view of the facade of St. Stephanus, a baroque church in the small village of Riegsee near Murnau, as well as in this view of a Murnau street. The parish church of Murnau, St. Nikolaus, visible from afar, with its triple-axis west facade structured after Italian models, repeatedly attracted Kandinsky's or Alexej von Jawlensky's attention as a striking architectural motif.

1908 – A Turning Point: On the Path to Abstraction with Expressive Colors
Something astonishing happened in Murnau in the fall of 1908, when Kandinsky, Münter, Jawlensky, and Werefkin, after long stays in Italy and France, met and painted in the Upper Bavarian town: an artistic upheaval, a radical change from impressionist and late impressionist painting toward a synthetic, expressive color painting. "The weeks that we painted together in the splendid Murnau summer between mid-August and late September 1908, would mark a turning point in their personal lives and artistic development. Here in Murnau, both [Kandisnky and Münter] realized a breakthrough and attained their own means of painterly expression for which they had been searching for so long. The intense light at foothills of the Alps, which often brings out the colors and contours of the landscape and the place in clear surfaces without much atmospheric refraction, contributes to a liberation of their vision. In unprecedented fluid and spontaneous flow, they created brightly colored views of the town, its surroundings with the Murnau Bog and the Alps. During these weeks, Münter in particular painted up to five oil studies a day while wandering around outdoors with great enthusiasm, she would summarize the decisive change in her painting in the concise and often quoted formula: 'After a short period of agony, I made a great leap - from painting nature - more or less impressionistic - to feeling a content - to abstracting - to giving an extract,'" is how the Blaue Reiter expert Annegret Hoberg describes the bustling atmosphere. (Annegret Hoberg, Wassily Kandinsky und Gabriele Münter, Munich, 1994, p.14 and 46).

The New Painting Style
The new style of painting would be determined by a two-dimensional depiction reduced to the basic forms and with bright and contrasty colors that no longer follow the natural model. A trend that can be observed in "Blick aus dem Fenster des Griesbräu" (View from the Window of the Griesbräu) one of the first pictures Kandinsky painted there which shows the view of Johannisstrasse from the window of the inn on 'Obere Hauptstrasse', where the four artists had rented rooms. The long, broad brushstrokes, as well as the details of the colorful houses, still show hints of Art Nouveau. Soon, in his numerous views of Murnau, color and form would continue to condense into an "extract," as Münter also described her own paintings of this period. However, what is more important for the picture’ s composition than the geographical conditions is the artist's own experience of what they see and immediately express. The special nature of a daily or seasonal situation and the emotions it evokes were to be spontaneously captured. With the aim of creating an overall decorative appearance, Murnau, under the direction of the Munich architect Emanuel von Seidl, had preserved those typical craftsmen houses between 1906 and 1910. Today, they are still characteristic of the town’s streetscape, while its general structure with small alleys also has not changed much since the days of Gabriele Münter around 1908/09. A vast moorland, the Murnauer Moos (Bog) with the rivers Loisach and Ramsach sprawls out south of Murnau between the mountain range with the village and the Alps rising to the southwest and southeast.

Wassily Kandinsky Creates Radically New
The progressive reduction to just a few landscape details is a common feature of pictures by the new Murnau artist residents. They show the radical possibilities with which these artists individually rephrased what they see and, with an almost central-perspective concept of space, arrived at fascinating color compositions (and a comparable painting style): Houses, trees and mountains appear as homogeneously painted surfaces framed by colored contours; colors, remixed in bold nuances between red and blue in Kandinsky's work, somewhat more subdued and pointed with violet, green and yellow in Jawlensky's; color that now interprets the impression of a landscape, makes for its order and makes it an experience. On the way to Kochel or in the opposite direction to Seeleiten/Berggeist in the direction of Kohlgrub, these landscapes can still be experienced as a rural cultural landscape today. Completely in the sense of Kandinsky, who demanded to search for artistic forms "which must be freed from everything secondary in order to express strongly only what is necessary - in short - the striving for artistic synthesis (..)" in the founding pamphlet of the "Neue Künstlervereinigung München" (New Artists' Association Munich) in January 1909. With the progressive restriction to a few details characteristic of the place and this surrounding landscapes, Wassily Kandinsky searched for radical possibilities to transform what he saw and thus also attained this brightly colored view: the view of Johannisstraße to the east not far from the Griesbräu on Obermarkt, the venerable brewery/inn that hosted Jawlensky, Kandinsky, Münter and Werefkin in the fall of 1908. [MvL]

Buyer's premium and taxation for Wassily Kandinsky "Murnau"
This lot can be purchased subject to differential or regular taxation.

Differential taxation:
Hammer price up to 800,000 €: herefrom 32 % premium.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 800,000 € is subject to a premium of 27 % and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 800,000 €.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 4,000,000 € is subject to a premium of 22 % and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 4,000,000 €.
The buyer's premium contains VAT, however, it is not shown.

Regular taxation:
Hammer price up to 800,000 €: herefrom 27 % premium.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 800,000 € is subject to a premium of 21% and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 800,000 €.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 4,000,000 € is subject to a premium of 15% and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 4,000,000 €.
The statutory VAT of currently 19 % is levied to the sum of hammer price and premium. As an exception, the reduced VAT of 7 % is added for printed books.

We kindly ask you to notify us before invoicing if you wish to be subject to regular taxation.