Untitled (Improvisation), Wassily Kandinsky
Wassily Kandinsky
Untitled (Improvisation)
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Wassily Kandinsky

Untitled (Improvisation), 1911 – 1912

235 x 290 mm
Physical Description
Brush in black and watercolour over pencil on wove paper
Inventory Number
Object Number
17516 Z
Acquired in 2016 as a gift from Ulrike Crespo
Can be presented in the study room of the Graphische Sammlung (special opening hours)


About the Work

In the years leading up to World War I, Kandinsky’s compositions became increasingly abstract. Now we frequently encounter isolated, strongly reductive motifs in his works, for example the rowboat, complete with rowers, at the centre. Kandinsky was seemingly free in his combinations of representational fragments such as this one with each other and, sometimes, with completely abstract elements. As vehicles of 'inner sounds', as sensory values, the individual pictorial components were to make spiritual-emotional reality tangible. For Kandinsky, true art lay beyond the visible.

About the Acquisition

The Städel Museum has the photographer, psychotherapist, philanthropist, and long-time Frankfurt resident Ulrike Crespo (1950–2019) to thank for more than ninety works ranging from classical modernism to American pop art. The paintings, drawings, and prints by Wassily Kandinsky, Otto Dix, Oskar Schlemmer, Max Ernst, Jean Dubuffet, Cy Twombly, and others originally belonged to the holdings of her grandfather, the Darmstadt-based industrialist Karl Ströher (1890–1977), who amassed an extensive art collection after World War II.

Work Data

Basic Information

Untitled (Improvisation)
Period Produced
Object Type
Physical Description
Brush in black and watercolour over pencil on wove paper
Geographic Reference
Label at the Time of Manufacture
Monogrammiert unten links (in Grau): K
Captions Added Later
Verso nummeriert unten links (mit Bleistift): 2651/22
  • Nicht vorhanden
Work Catalogues
  • Barnett 309

Property and Acquisition

Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
Picture Copyright
Public Domain
Acquired in 2016 as a gift from Ulrike Crespo

Work Content

Motifs and References



  • 5 Abstract Ideas and Concepts
  • 54DD1 Improvisation

Research and Discussion


Object History
Otto Ralfs (1892-1955), Braunschweig
Verst. Kunstkabinett R. N. Ketterer (22. Auktion), Stuttgart, 29. November 1955 (Los 1279) an Karl Ströher (1890-1977), Darmstadt
Nachlass Karl Ströher, 1977
an seine Enkelin Ulrike Crespo (1950-2019), Frankfurt am Main
geschenkt an das Städelsche Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt am Main, 2016.


Since 2001, the Städel Museum has systematically been researching the provenance of all objects that were acquired during the National Socialist period, or that changed owners or could have changed owners during those years. The basis for this research is the “Washington Declaration”, also known as the “Washington Conference Principles”, formulated at the 1998 “Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets” and the subsequent “Joint Declaration”.

The provenance information is based on the sources researched at the time they were published digitally. However, this information can change at any time when new sources are discovered. Provenance research is therefore a continuous process and one that is updated at regular intervals.

Ideally, the provenance information documents an object’s origins from the time it was created until the date when it found its way into the collection. It contains the following details, provided they are known:

  • the type of acquisition and/or the way the object changed hands
  • the owner's name and place of residence
  • the date on which it changed hands

The successive ownership records are separated from each other by a semicolon.

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