Born in Russia, Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) took first German, then French citizenship. He played a crucial role in the genesis of abstract art. As a young painter his work looked very much like that of his Impressionist and Fauvist contemporaries, but he was wrestling with a question he put in its simplest form in 1908: “I knew for certain that a subject weakened a painting, but then a terming abyss opened beneath my feet: what was to replace the subject?” In 1910, in Munich, he painted what will always stand in the history of art as the first abstract watercolour.
The work to illustrate the label for Mouton Rothschild 1971, which he painted in 1939, belongs to his “architectural” period. The original now hangs in the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris.