Kandinsky painting unseen for almost 50 years goes on display in Dubai today

Valued at $25 million to $35m, the work was once owned by world-renowned art collector and museum founder Solomon R Guggenheim

Kandinsky's 'Tensions calmees' is on view at Sotheby's in DIFC from May 17 to 18. Courtesy Sotheby's
Kandinsky's 'Tensions calmees' is on view at Sotheby's in DIFC from May 17 to 18. Courtesy Sotheby's

A 1937 work, by Russian painter and pioneer of abstract art Wassily Kandinsky, that has been in a private collection for nearly half a century will be on view in Dubai this week before heading to auction in June.

Titled Tensions calmees, the oil on canvas was once owned by American art collector and businessman Solomon R Guggenheim, who was a friend of Kandinsky’s.

The work is a colourful abstract composition filled with overlapping organic and geometric forms. Kandinsky drew inspiration from music, naming some of his works “improvisations” and “compositions”, relating colour with emotion or sound. Tensions calmees also contains these references, with shapes resembling instruments and notes.

Guggenheim, the founder of the eponymous museum in New York, acquired about 150 works by the artist over his lifetime. Tensions calmees was exhibited in a 1947 exhibition at the museum that was shown after Kandinsky’s death in 1944.

In 1964, Guggenheim sold 50 artworks from his collection at a Sotheby’s auction. The buyers of Tensions calmees from that year have kept the work in their private collection and it has not been presented to the public again until this year.

The painting – valued at $25 million to $35m – is a highlight of the Sotheby’s modern and contemporary art evening sale, which will take place in London on Tuesday, June 29.

It was previously shown in New York before travelling to Dubai, where it will be on view at Sotheby’s in Dubai International Financial Centre on Monday and Tuesday, before heading to Taipei, Hong Kong and London.

Katia Nounou Boueiz, head of Sotheby’s UAE, described the work as a “rich, jewel-like painting”.

Its arrival in the country coincides with Louvre Abu Dhabi’s exhibition Abstraction and Calligraphy – Towards a Universal Language, which examines links between abstract art from the Arab world, the Far East and the western canon. The show, which runs until Saturday, June 12, features 80 works by abstract art pioneers, including Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Joan Miro and Willem de Kooning.

Updated: May 17, 2021 10:59 AM

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