1 Clement Greenberg, "Kandinsky" (1957), in Art and Culture (Boston: Beacon Press, 1961) 111. This is a revised version of an essay Greenberg published in The Nation, January 13, 1945 in response to a recent exhibition of Kandinsky's paintings: "Obituary and Review of an Exhibition of Kandinsky." This 1945 essay is reprinted in Clement Greenberg, The Collected Essays and Criticism, vol. 2, 1945&emdash;1949, ed. John O'Brian (Chicago UP, 1986), p.3&endash;6. In the later essay Greenberg removed some the journalistic aspects of the earlier article as well as references to certain artists.
2 Other contemporaries&emdash;including artists as diverse as Francis Picabia, Robert Delaunay, Fernand Léger, Wyndham Lewis (each of whom began painting abstractly around 1913)&emdash;returned to figurative painting almost immediately thereafter. This in itself is a puzzling phenomenon, and one that seems to me only partially explained by the neo-conservative classicism of the post-war climate. Tow of the most salient accounts of this retreat are: Kenneth Silver, Esprit de Corps: The Art of the Parisian Avant-Garde and the First World War, 1914-1925, Princeton UP, 1989. And Romy Golan, Modernity and Nostalgia: Art and Politics in France Between the Wars, New Haven: Yale UP, 1995.
3 Greenberg, "Obituary and Review of an Exhibition of Kandinsky, " in Collected Essays and Criticism, vol. 2, 5, (Chicago UP, 1993).
6 Hofmann owned a few of Kandinsky's early abstractions and was in great measure responsible for introducing his work to younger artists. With this in mind, it seems plausible that Hofmann's work of the late 1940s and 1950s was motivated, at least in part, by an attempt to patch up Kandinsky's holes with large, rectangular fields of color.
7 Fairfield Porter, "To the Editor of Partisan Review," reprinted in Clement Greenberg: The Collected Essays and Criticism, vol. 3 (Chicago UP, 1993), 237.
8 Guillaume Apollinaire, "Les Peintres Cubistes" (1913), excerpted in Marilyn McCully, A Picasso Anthology (Princeton UP, 1982), 74.
9 Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, from Der Weg zum Kubismus (1920), in Marilyn McCully, A Picasso Anthology (Princeton UP, 1982), 71.
10 Robert Delaunay, in The New Art of Color: The Writings of Robert and Sonia Delaunay (New York: Viking Press, 1978), 53.
11 Robert Delaunay, in The New Art of Color, 23.
12 Sonia Delaunay, in The New Art of Color, 202.
13 For clear discussion of this process and the surrounding historical conditions see: Robert C. Morgan, Twentieth-Century Music: A History of Musical Style in Modern Europe and America (New York: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc., 1990). See also, Charles Rosen, Arnold Schoenberg (Chicago UP, 1975), especially, chapter 2 ("Atonality"), 23&emdash;62.
14 For a narrative account of Kandinsky's relationship with Schoenberg, see Jelena Hahl-Koch's essay, "Stages of the Friendship," in Arnold Schoenberg and Wassily Kandinsky, Letters, Pictures and Documents, ed. Jelena Hahl-Koch, trans. John C. Crawford (Faber and Faber, London, 1984), 135&endash;140.
15 Kandinsky, in Schoenberg and Kandinsky, Letters, Pictures, Documents, 21.
16 Franz Marc, who had attended the January concert with Kandinsky, immediately recognized the crucial affinity between the composer and painter. In a letter to August Macke, Marc wrote: "Can you imagine a music in which tonality (that is, the adherence to any key) is completely suspended? I was constantly reminded of Kandinsky's large Composition, which also permits no trace of tonality." (Franz Marc, in Schoenberg and Kandinsky, Letters, Pictures, Documents, 136)
17 Schoenberg, in Schoenberg and Kandinsky, Letters, Pictures, Documents, 24.The poster's text was drawn from a chapter in Schoenberg's Harmonielehre (1911).
18 Quoted in Piero Weiss and Richard Taruskin, eds., Music in the Western World: A History in Documents (New York: Schirmer Books, 1984), 428.
19 As Webern put it in retrospect: "with the abandonment of tonality the most important means of building up larger pieces was lost. For tonality was supremely important in producing self-contained forms... Only when Schoenberg gave expression to the law [12 tone composition] were larger forms again possible." Anton Webern, "Towards a New Music," in Willi Reich (ed.), The Path to New Music, trans. Leo Black (Totawa, NJ: European American Music, 1963), 590&emdash;92.
20 Schoenberg, "My Evolution," (1949), in Style and Idea, trans. Leo Black (Berkeley: California UP, 1984), 91
21 Schoenberg, "Composition With Twelve Tones (2)" (1948), in Style and Idea, 245, 246.
22 Kandinsky, in Schoenberg and Kandinsky, Letters, Pictures, Documents, 25.
23 That it was still viable in France may be in fact a sign of a certain traditionalism that itself deserves consideration . For a different account of the relation between Kandinsky's painting and Schoenberg's music see: Peter Vergo, "Music and Abstract Painting: Kandinsky, Goethe and Schoenberg," in Michael Compton, ed., Towards a New Art: Essays on the Background to Abstract Art, 1910&emdash;20 (London: The Tate Gallery, 1980), 41&emdash;63. Vergo argues that the key analogy for Kandinsky was the one between representational painting and tonal music on the one hand and abstract painting and atonal music on the other. (61, passim.) Vergo's analysis does not seek to distinguish between the particularities of Kandinsky's mode of abstraction and those of his contemporaries in France.
24 "Rand" is literally translated as "Border" and the work is often translated as "Painting (or "Picture") with White Border." However, as Peg Weiss has pointed out, since the white section does not circumscribe the entire painting, the word "edge" is more appropriate. Peg Weiss, "Kandinsky in Munich: Encounters and Transformations," in Kandinsky in Munich: 1896&emdash;1914 (New York: The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1982), 77 note 71.
25 Wassily Kandinsky, in Kenneth C. Lindsay and Peter Vergo, eds., Kandinsky: Complete Writings on Art (New York: Da Capo Press, 1994), 391.
26 Kandinsky, Kandinsky: Complete Writings on Art, 390.
27For an extensive account of Mondrian's various attempts to counter the force of the center, see Yve-Alain Bois, "The Iconoclast," in Piet Mondrian: 1872&emdash;1944 (New York: Bulfinch Press, 1994), 313&emdash;372
28 Schoenberg, "Gustave Mahler: In Memoriam" (1912), in Style and Idea, 463.
29 Quoted in Rosen, Arnold Schoenberg, 3.
30 Piet Mondrian, in The New Art &emdash; The New Life: The Collected Writings of Piet Mondrian, eds. and trans. Harry Holtzman and Martin James (Boston: G.K. Hall, 1986), 132.
31 Ferdinand de Saussure, Course in General Linguistics, trans. Wade Baskin (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1966), passim.
32 Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature, trans. Dona Polan (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986), p22, 94. Deleuze and Guattari have drawn their comments from Vidal Sephiha, "Introduction a l'étude de l'intensif" in Languages, 18 (June, 1970), 104-120. One of the most compelling aspects of this particular linguistic analysis is the way in which it offers a bridge between two well-entrenched academic camps&emdash;between those who interpret abstract painting by way of the analogy with music and those who interpret it by way of the analogy with language. Asignifying language is, as Deleuze and Guattari point out, akin to music, in a way that makes it particularly productive when considering the development of abstract painting in the early twentieth century, especially as that development was beholden to two apparently irreconcilable discourses, that of musical non-referentiality and semiotic arbitrariness.
33 For other aspects of Kandinsky's treatment of the motif, see Rose-Carol Washton Long, "Kandinsky and Abstraction: The Role of the Hidden Image," Artforum 10:10 (June, 1972), 42&endash;49. Washton Long focuses on Kandinsky's concern that his abstracted motifs may lack the power to communicate with the clarity of those in his earlier work.
34 F. T. Marinetti, "The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism," reprinted in F.T. Marinetti, Let's Murder the Moonshine: Selected Writings, trans. R. W. Flint and A. A. Coppotelli (Los Angeles: Sun and Moon Classics, 1991), 49.
35 Quoted by Klaus Lankheit in his introduction to The Blaue Reiter Almanac (New York: Da Capo Press, 1974), 35.
36 Marinetti, Let's Murder the Moonshine, 49.
37 Ernst Bloch, "Discussing Expressionism," in Theodor Adorno et. al., Aesthetics and Politics, translation editor Ronald Taylor (London: Verso, 1980), 22.
38 Bloch, in Aesthetics and Politics, 23, 25&emdash;26. It did not take long for those involved to recognize what Bloch did. Kandinsky and Schoenberg backed away when the first world war broke out. By the 1920s, each had made for himself a new ground&emdash;Kandinsky in the architectonics of the Bauhaus, Schoenberg in the rigid structure of twelve tone composition. The avant-garde would not again adopt this early discourse for some forty years, and when it did it was not in Germany but in America: in the "aleatory" music of John Cage and the "combines" of Robert Rauchenberg. "[We] were getting rid of glue," recalled Cage in 1959. "Where people had felt the necessity to stick sounds together to make a continuity, we... felt the opposite necessity to get rid of the glue so that sounds would be themselves." (John Cage, "History of Experimental Music in the United States," (1959) reprinted in Silence (Middletown, CN: Wesleyan UP, 1961), 71.) At the same moment when Greenberg was insisting upon the importance of what he called French modernism, others around him were looking in a different direction.