Vasily Kandinsky, The Mirror, a linocut

Germany, AD 1907

Vasily Kandinsky (1866-1944) was a leading figure in the development of abstract art. He was born in Russia and originally studied law, but he moved to Munich in 1896 to study painting.

In 1901-4 he founded and organized an exhibiting society, Phalanx, with its own art school which became a forum for the arts and crafts movement. Kandinsky integrated printmaking, particularly woodcuts, into his artistic activities and he exhibited his own woodcuts through Phalanx. The woodcuts imposed a degree of simplification on him, which led him to analyse the essential elements of his design. This played a vital role in the development of his style and served as a link between ornament and abstraction.

This print is not dated, but Kandinsky later told a cataloguer that he made it in 1907. It is closely related to his other early prints. At that time his colour woodcuts and linocuts used only two blocks, printed in succession onto paper. The line block was inked in black and the colour block was inked with watercolour pigment applied through a stencil in five different colours. The watercolour pigment created particularly subtle, evanescent effects: here it creates a mosaic, jewel-like quality. The print recalls Kandinsky's interest in fairy tales and the influence of Jugendst; early commentators thought that it revealed his Russian background.

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Vasily Kandinsky, The Mirror, a linocut

© 2001 ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London


More information


F. Carey and A. Griffiths, The print in Germany 1880-1933, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1984)


Height: 320.000 mm
Width: 158.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1983-7-23-24



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