Sunday, January 9, 2011

dissonance and abstraction

At the NOMA's (New Orleans Museum of Art) bookstore, I came upon another treasure for a few dollars. My latest find is a book titled Schoenberg, Kandinsky , and the Blue Rider, published for the exhibition of the same name which took place at the Jewish Museum in NYC from October 24, 2003 till February 12, 2004.

Paintings from Arnold Schoenberg, Wassily Kandinsky and artists from the Blue Rider were exposed together, recreating the group's exhibitions before WWI.

One century ago, the 2Nd of January 1911, new compositions from Schoenberg were played in Munich. In the audience, Kandinsky and Franz Marc were listening...and Kandinsky was drawing. At the time, he was exploring synaesthesia ( the idea that senses were interrelated) and translated the music with colors in Composition III.

The 2Nd of January was followed by a fruitful relationship between the painter and the composer, who first exchanged letters and eventually met.

Along the five essays written by different authors, the reader will learn about the birth of abstraction in that part of the world, the personal lives of Schoenberg and Kandinsky and their inspirations.
Schoenberg himself was a painter. Trained by Gerstl, he was selling portraits at times to supplement his income. He produced oils and drawings for several years before WWI and after a few exhibitions decided that he was just an amateur. He concentrated on his musical career. Kandinsky was an admirer of his works and was painting the music of Schoenberg , who brought discordance, generating energy, creating thoughts, movements. A new era was born: abstraction and dissonance.

The book also describes the birth of the Blue Rider movement, its first exhibition and the publication of the Almanac.

The intellectual effervescence of the time and place was abruptly interrupted by four years of a brutish war. Franz Marc joined the Imperial Army and was killed in 1916, Kandinsky moved back to Russia and Schoenberg to Austria where shortly after the war, he was exposed to the anti- Jewish atmosphere. He moved to the States and Kandinsky eventually to Paris.

The two artists exchanges were very fertile. The book is a testimony to this. Each chapter addresses a different aspect of the relationship and its lasting influence on the art in the 20Th century, bringing a synergy, a simultaneous musical and visual revolution.

The book includes 61 plates reproducing the works presented at the exhibition in NYC, a detailed biography of Schoenberg and Kandinsky, numerous references, and a CD with the entire pieces played at the concert the 2Nd of January 1911, including Second String Quartet in F-Sharp Minor, op.10, Three Piano Pieces, 0p 11, Lieder, opp. 2 and 6.

The Centre Pompidou had a major retrospective of Kandinsky's works in 2009.
Schoenberg's concert? I listened to the recording and discovered that I could see colors too.

Link to the recording of one of the "Three Piano Pieces, op.11" played that evening in Munich
1."Der Blue Rider", Kandinsky, 1903
2."Composition VII", 1913
3."Impression III" (Concert), 1911
(1 and 2 public domaine, 3 Flickr sharing)

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