The vibrant colors of Vasily Kandinsky’s Picture With An Archer (1909) almost obscure its subject. At lower right, an archer on horseback leaps through a radiant landscape of towering trees and rock formations. Men in Russian dress stand in the left foreground; behind them is a group of buildings with onion-shaped domes. This folkloric scene evokes Kandinsky’s native Russia, and it also bears the influence of Murnau, the southern German town where the artist lived when he made this work: the black outlines enclosing bright colors recall reverse glass painting, a local craft. “Color,” Kandinsky wrote a year later, “is a power which directly influences the soul.”
Pointillism clearly influenced this painting, even though, unlike Seurat, Gustav Klimt never expressed an interest in utilizing optics in his work. Nine-tenths of The Park (1909) is a solid mass of foliage, thus if not for the tree trunks and strips of grass at the bottom, this composition would be wholly abstract. The painting’s naturalistic elements are offset by Klimt’s decorative mosaic of blue, green and yellow dots, which are rendered representational only with the aid of the work’s lower section. This is a visually demanding work, and possibly one of Klimt’s finest plein air paintings (although many of his landscapes were finished in the studio, all were begun in the open air). He painted these throughout his career, but to this day they are celebrated far less than his portraits.
Between 1907 and 1911, Pablo Picasso continued to break apart the visible world into increasingly small facets of monochromatic (using one color) planes of space within his cubist style. Painted in Paris, during the Winter of 1908-09, Fruit Dish is considered to be one of the most outstanding examples of this process.
Fruit Dish is part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.