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Wassily Kandinsky, Improvisation 31 (Sea Battle), 1913, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund

Improvisation 31 (Sea Battle), Kandinsky (ASL)

Kandinsky created dozens of compositions he called “improvisations” from 1909 to 1913. In this work, strong black lines and scrubbed patches of color course across the canvas, but their movement is constrained by a monumental triangular composition. The use of the term “improvisation” suggests spontaneous expression, while “sea battle” evokes a military engagement.