Savage Creatures (Bio-Morphs) (Kandinsky at the Neue Galerie)


The one thing at the Kandinsky exhibition at the Neue Galerie in New York that I don’t think I ever knew about is the artist’s design for the 1922 Juryfreie Kunstschau. The Museum had the design reconstructed, and it occupies its own separate room.  You walk into the three dimensional space surrounded by the scrawling form-figures on all four walls.

Writing in the NYT, Karen Rosenberg argues: The [p]aintings have been reproduced exactingly from Kandinsky’s sketches, as if they had been enlarged, so that each wobble of the brush or hastily filled-in area is magnified. Ms. [Jill] Lloyd said she was trying to distinguish this reconstruction from a tidier, more interpretive one presented at the Pompidou Center in Paris in 1976, but it’s nonetheless a distracting curatorial choice.

But I think Jill Lloyd, the curator, made the right call. Kandinsky’s own sketches are on view in another gallery. But the reconstruction is better. The floating bio-morphic figures wobble in the semi-dark of the museum space. The enlargement makes them look strange, wild and savage. Schoenberg tinkles in the background.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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