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Vasily Kandinsky, "Klänge (Sounds)"

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Video transcript

(tranquil music) - This beautiful book is titled "Klänge," or "Sounds." It's by Vasily Kandinsky, who was a very important painter. He also made a number of illustrated books in the early 1910s. It was published in 1913, but he actually created the 56 woodcuts that illustrate the book between 1907 and 1912. Some are black and white, some are in beautiful jewel-like color. Some of the images are representational. They seem to illustrate a scene. The motif of the rider on horseback runs through this book. Here we have a much more abstract image of three riders. Kandinsky wrote the poems for this book, and they have a very musical, sonorous, onomatopoetic quality. The title is "Warum." The text is in German, it means "Why." "Warum? "Keiner ist da herausgekommen. "Keiner? "Keiner. "Einer? "Nein." Kandinsky also designed the book, the type face, the page size, and the binding. So for him it was really a total work of art. It was a very influential book. It became a touchstone for a whole generation. There were artists who were part of the Dada movement in Switzerland, and artists who were part of the Russian avant-garde in Russia who would actually recite his poems at their gatherings. Kandinsky is best known as a painter, but during these early years of his career he was very involved with the woodcut technique. He talked about how important it was for him in simplifying his art, his style, because woodcut is a very flat technique and it has broad areas of form. In that process, his imagery got increasingly abstract. So it was the woodcut technique that actually helped him develop as an abstract artist. (tranquil music)