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1910 or 1913?

This watercolor, signed by Kandinsky and dated 1910 has been considered the first abstract piece in the entire history of painting. However, today's experts believe that it actually dates from 1913 and that it was intended as a draft for another work 'Composition VII'.

First draft

It has been questioned whether this is a study made before the completion of another work. The style of this watercolor and the management of space suggest that this piece is closer to paintings done a few years later in 1913.

Drawings vs. color

This work is made up of watercolor touches overlaid with black lines drawn with pen and ink, dissociating the roles of drawing and color from one another.


The lines provide no outlines for the shapes, instead lending them a rhythmic sense of movement around the work.

Floating in space

The patches of color float in space in an liberated way. This is a common feature of works dating from after 1912: before then, the colors remained structured by images, which referenced Kandinsky's memory and personal recollections.

Untitled, Kandinsky, 1913

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What is this helmet made of?
Clue: it's one of the fastest growing plants in the world
Bamboo helmet of foot soldier from Late Qing Dynasty, China National Silk Museum

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