, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How much can we hype ART? How much can we monetize the intellectual works of others? No idea? Well here is a story for you: In America the idea of modern (usually European in origin) was promoted almost single handed by one person in the very early 1920’s – a woman by the name of Katherine S. Dreier (1877-1952) of German origin, born in Brooklyn, New York.

Katherine Dreier was the author of several books and an artist who had studied at Pratt. She also painted and studied in Paris, and had two of her paintings exhibited in the 1913 New York Armory Show. However, she is better known as a patron of the Arts backing artists like Marcel Duchamp and Kandinsky.

dreier2In 1920, she founded the Societe Anonyme in New York together with the artists Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp and Kurt Schwitters. The Societe Anonyme operated out of a small gallery in New York City. At first this, art society’s aim was to become the first Museum of Modern Art in New York. It succeeded in putting on numerous one man art shows, as well as, collecting over 800 works of the finest modern art produced over its lifespan. The ground breaking 1926 Exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum organized by the Societe had over 50,000 visitors. (photo below, of the exhibition courtesy Yale University. Archive)

brooklyn museum exhibitThe Societe Anonyme would be the first to show work by Kandinsky in the USA in 1923. Joseph Stella, Archipenko, Paul Klee, Ferdinand Leger all had shows largely due to her efforts in promoting the modernist approach to painting and sculpture.

The hardbound book published in 1923 that she authored Western Art and the New Era (cover shown above), probably is the first published book in English featuring a Kandinsky inspired book cover. The dust jacket printed on green paper featured this same image.

Dreier believed so much in Kandinsky that the frontispiece in the book was a full color plate of a composition done in 1922. (below)

She also was a lifetime promoter of Marcel Duchamp who made a work to fit above a bookcase in Dreier’s apartment. (photo from the book below)

During her lifetime Dreier decided the Societe’s art collection and archives would go to Yale University, leaving many pieces of her private collection to other area institutions like the MOMA and Guggenheim Museums.

In 1953 the Guggenheim Foundation received a small but important bequest by one of 20th-century art’s most influential figures, Katherine S. Dreier. Most important among the 33 works donated by the estate were Brancusi’s Little French Girl“(1914–18), an Archipenko bronze (1919), a Calder standing mobile (1935), an untitled Juan Gris still life (1916), and two collages dating from 1919 to 1921 by the German Dadaist Kurt Schwitters. So much for the avant garde and generous spirit of this exceptional woman.

And now Christies Auction House will feature a stunning Kandinsky work in their coming November 2012 auction! The balance of this post is from an Huffington Post article and the photo courtesy of Christies.

Wassily Kandinsky, the Russian-born painter famous for his vibrant colors and early abstract techniques, is set to break records at Christie’s this November. His 1909 painting “Study for Impression 8” was recently announced as the “first star lot” of the auction house’s upcoming Impressionist and Modern Art sale, boasting an estimated price tag of $20-$30 million, according to Reuters.

WASSILY KANDINSKY (1866-1944), Studie für improvisation 8, painted in 1909 in Murnau, oil on cardboard laid down on canvas, 38 5/8 x 27 ½ in. (98 x 70 cm.). Estimate: $20,000,000-30,000,000.

Study for Impression 8” is being sold by the Volkart Foundation, the charitable trust of 160-year-old Swiss commodities trading firm Volkart Brothers. After having spent time on loan to numerous art museums like London’s Tate Modern and Musée des Beaux-Arts in Montréal, it’s now poised to become Kandinsky’s most expensive masterpiece, beating out his “Study for Improvisation 3,” which sold for a whopping $16.9 million at Christie’s in 2006, and the reigning auction record holder “Fugue,” which went for $20.9 million at Sotheby’s in 1990.

The painting shows a scene of pilgrims gathered outside the walls of the once Russian-dominated capital, Kiev. Silhouetted by a background of domed buildings rendered in the fantastical color palette that the artist favored, the pilgrims are depicted in front of two armed men guarding the city’s gates, possibly alluding to the story of Boris and Gleb, the sons of Vladimir the Great who brought Christianity to Kiev in the 10th century, or to Kandinsky’s beloved warrior, Saint George.

As the title of the painting indicates, “Study for Improvisation 8” is part of a larger series of oil paintings called “Improvisations,” all of which were created in the Bavarian town of Murnau in the run-up to World War I. During this period, Kandinsky was increasingly affected by the revolutionary spirit brewing in Russia and his own dissatisfaction with the material side of the art world. Organized into “Impressions,” “Improvisations,” and “Compositions,” the masterpieces of this time are marked by their impulsive brushstrokes and dreamy forms, and reflect Kandinsky’s revitalized approach to art outlined in his book, Concerning the Spiritual in Art.

According to a press release issued by Christie’s, the high-price of “Study for Improvisation 8” is a result of its provenance – it’s been hanging in famous art havens across the globe for the past half-century – and the fact that the “Improvisation” series has only come to auction twice in recent years, with most of the studies happily housed in major museum collections. A Wall Street Journal article adds that the painting’s popularity may also be affected by demand from the newly wealthy art collectors in Russia. Depicting traditional Russian motifs in an abstract style, the painting is likely to excite the uber-rich residents of Kandinsky’s native country who revere the painter as an icon of Russia’s artistic elite.

“From a collector’s perspective, Kandinsky’s Improvisation series is at the nexus of some of the most compelling innovations of the avant-garde era,” stated Brooke Lampley, Head of Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art division, in a press release for the piece. “Through these paintings, Kandinsky was pushing the traditional limits of artistic expression in order to advance radical new theories about form, color, subject matter and most of all, artistic impulse.”

A very good read! It makes the Yale exhibition devoted to the Dreier Legacy a must read.