Wassily Kandinsky, Studie zu «Improvisation 3», 1909,
Oil and gouache on cardboard in the artist's painted frame, 44,5 x 64,7 cm, © 2011 ProLitteris, Zurich
At first glance this appears to simply be a juxtaposed series of blocks of bold colour – on closer inspection we recognize a figurative representation. Holding aloft his lance, a rider on a blue horse gallops over a bridge towards the yellow fortress. A figure in floor-length green robes stands off to the side. The upper left corner is dominated by a yellow half-moon, or perhaps it's a half-concealed sun. Black contours separate the fields of colour from each other.
Riders and horses were among the favourite motifs of Wassiliy Kandinsky. The rider stands for Saint George and his battle with the dragon. Kandinsky interpreted the legend as a metaphor for the triumph of the human spirit over materialism. As an artist he had an even more precise interpretation of the rebellious knight: he was a symbol for his own quest for abstraction.
1909, the year in which “Improvisation 3” was produced, marked a turning point in Kandinsky's artistic career. Although the scene is still recognizable, the strongly simplified forms and the almost monochrome fields of colour suggest the disbandment of representationalism.
Kandinsky wanted the observer to absorb the picture bit by bit rather than to simply be presented with a figurative scene. This gradual perception was meant to open the observer up to a turn of emotions.