Pick of the Picture Books: Kandinsky, edited by Helmut Friedel and Annegret Hoberg

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The Independent Culture

Weighing in at nearly a stone, this beautifully-produced, massive collection of Kandinsky scholarship is one of the most weighty books about the author ever published, the result of years of work by the world's foremost experts.

Kandinsky, edited by Helmut Friedel and Annegret Hoberg (Prestel, £99, with a facsimile of the portfolio of 12 prints Kleine Welten) is a collection of essays by scholars who love the artist, along with some of the finest reproductions of what Kandinsky himself called his "muddle of masses, flecks and lines". Photographs and documentary sources, many of them previously unpublished, add surprises to the story of his life and work. Reinhard Spieler's essay contests the received wisdom that Kandinsky was a recluse during his early years in Paris. Noemi Smolie's chapter documents his Russian years. The book follows Prestel's epics on Botticelli and Klimt, and coincides with a world tour of his paintings. Tate Modern's show of his work was the most visited in 2006. "The reason you can see Kandinsky in hotel rooms everywhere," says Hoberg, "is because he has a universality in his painterly language – people understand it."

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