Sir Michael was away this summer, travelling with his son on the continent. They went to Bavaria to meet an artist called Kandinsky and they must have immediately developed fascination for his art for they already bought several paintings and drawings from the man. I saw one of his paintings in a magazine a while ago, and it’s either that photography doesn’t do his art justice or that my sluggish nineteenth-century tastes, but it sure didn’t have the visceral effect on me that it did on Sir Michael. He even wants to put up a Blaue Reiter exhibition in London, (that means Blue Rider in English), I know because we’ve been typing his extensive correspondence about it for a while now, and judging from the increasing volume and its tone, it’s not going well. I think it might be just a tad too expensive to bring their art over to England.
All the same, with his personal links with Vassily Kandinsky in Munich, Sir Michael will no doubt pursue his own passion of collecting art beyond anything a simple art lover can even dream of. He will, I’m sure, get into all this expressionist and abstract expressionist art and then he’ll have a lot of explanation to do to all the stuffy Leeds dignitaries who enjoy no other art than their own portraits in their studies. I always think of myself as an advanced lover of all that’s art, but I have to admit I myself struggle with these new movements. Haha, I reckon I hate to feel old and left out!
Sometimes, I feel an abstract work moves something in my brain when I gaze at it long enough, but I can’t quite put my finger on how to enjoy them really – not that there is much of a chance to exercise my modern art enjoyment skills in Leeds yet. But, it seems the world is slowly changing even up here in t’north! I’ve seen in one of the letters I had to work on recently that Sir Michael is planning to bring Kandinsky to Leeds and will try and make Loinians know and appreciate his art. Well, if that won’t happen, maybe one of his paintings will make it at least. I really want to see one in real life. Magazine photography is very advanced (oh Burlington Magazine how I love thee!), but can never do justice to real paintings.
I’m determined to learn more about these new artists and understand what moves them and how their paintings and sculptures work. I know I like them, but want to know more to understand and appreciate them. I just have to make sure I don’t mention my autodidact intentions to my daughter Isabel, because she will put her precious schoolmarm face on and start educating me as if I was a dumb old Victorian.
About Kandinsky in Leeds: Most notable in Sir Michael Sadler‘s collection was Kandinsky’s abstract painting Fragment for Composition VII, of 1912, which was in Leeds and on display at the Leeds Arts Club in 1913. He also owned Paul Gauguin’s celebrated work “The Vision After the Sermon”. According to Patrick Heron, Kandinsky even visited the Arts Club in Leeds before the First World War, but this is unconfirmed by sources.
About bringing Der Blaue Reiter to England: The “First exhibition of the editorial board of Der Blaue Reiter – Erste Asstellung der Redaktion Der Blaue Reiter” opened at the Heinrich Thannhauser’s Moderne Galerie December 18, 1911 in Munich, running through the first days of 1912. 43 works by 14 artists were shown: paintings by Henri Rousseau, Albert Bloch, David Burliuk, Wladimir Burliuk, Heinrich Campendonk, Robert Delaunay, Elisabeth Epstein, Eugen von Kahler, Wassily Kandinsky, August Macke, Franz Marc, Gabriele Münter, Jean Bloé Niestlé and Arnold Schönberg, and an illustrated catalogue edited.
From January 1912 through July 1914, the exhibition toured Europe with venues in Cologne, Berlin, Bremen, Hagen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Budapest, Oslo, Helsinki, Trondheim and Göteborg – No Leeds, despite Sir Michael’s expressed intentions, not even London!
I would love to put nice Kandinsky images up here, like “Der Blaue Reiter” (The Blue Rider), painted in 1903, but he died in 1944 (Lavender will be 72 by then!) and his paintings will be protected under German law 70 years after painter’s death, that is, until 2014. – Since not everyone is this careful about copyright, you’ll find a lot of his beautiful works online.
The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery sincerely wishes that Sir Michael Sadler had left his Kandinsky with the University back in 1923, but we are not ingrates and perfectly happy with the amazing collection that he did donate, sans Vassily, as is!
Visitors could enjoy the vast ‘Sadler Gift’ in our critically acclaimed exhibition in Autumn 2012.
The wonderful catalogues are available in the Gallery’s online store.