Kandinsky did not write any such detailed commentary to his Composition VII. Yet he left substantial ‘visual’ commentary – more than thirty preliminary works, including Indian ink drawings, watercolours, analytical diagrams and canvases. However they cannot be arranged in a consecutive linear order that would logically lead to the final outcome. Rather, Kandinsky’s preparatory work was a kind of polyphonic process, with a simultaneous development of a number of independent lines.
The concept of complex polyphony also applies to Kandinsky’s work on the plastic motifs for the Composition VII, apparent in several of his figurative works (1911-1912) that formed a kind of prelude to it. Although the painter did not define the theme of his Composition VII and actually insisted that it did not have, “as its starting point, any subject or any forms of material origin,” it is believed that its plastic motifs have their sources in several series interconnected series of works, namely, The Last Judgment, All Saints’ Day I, All Saints’ Day II, Angel of the Last Judgment, and Resurrection.
The ‘dramatis personae’ of these, already largely schematically treated apocalyptic visions move freely from one picture into another, while undergoing all kinds of transformations – they change their positions, their colouring, they feature as mirror images of themselves, they get ‘dismembered’, stretched, blended into the picture or given prominence, and, finally, they grow more or less abstract in treatment.
Artist: Vasily Kandinsky
Nationality: Russian, later French, (1866–1944)
Title: Composition VII
Date Created: Munich 1913
Size: 79 × 119 in (200.7 × 302.3 cm)
Collection: The State Tretyakov Gallery