“Giallo, rosso, blu” (Yellow, red, blue) is a 127×200 cm oil on canvas painting created in 1925 by Vasily Kandinsky.
The painting belongs to the “geometric” period of the artist’s life, when Kandinsky resided in Bauhaus. Curves and lines alternate, meet and cross over yellow and blue hues, while red tones form rectangular shapes near the centre of the painting.
A more discerning look reveals a man’s profile in the predominantly yellow area and, curiously enough, a cat’s face appears in the same area when the painting is turned upside.
On the right, true blue is showcased in all of its glorious depth.
Admire this artwork in person at the Centre Pompidou in Paris (http://www.centrepompidou.fr/).
The painting belongs to the artist’s monochromatic series, when he “returned to the origin of the language, the origin of everything”, as he put it to E. Siciliano during the famous interview of November 1972.
Schifano himself explained how his choice of yellow was purely casual: “I thought painting meant starting with something that’s absolutely primary…. That’s how I painted pictures: with blue, red, yellow. I used to say these are “symbols of energy”, “symbols of propaganda” […]. The first paintings were completely yellow with nothing else on them, empty images, bare of meaning. They were intentionally neither here or there, culture wise. They were just meant to “be”… Painting a yellow picture meant exactly that , painting a yellow picture, and that’s all.”
The canvas, or rather the paper on canvas, forms the basis for the wide strokes of enamel the artist purposely left irregular at the edges, with true and proper drips in the lower part of the painting, a deliberately primitive expression of artistic freedom, unhindered by culture and language. The artwork is framed by a thin black border line, much like a slide or movie screen. This is a precursor and the basis for the period that followed, when letters, numbers, sections of ads begin to appear: the period when the artist moves beyond zeroing out language, and sets his eyes on civilization instead. The panting is part of a private collection housed in Rovereto.
The house in question is actually the one the artist occupied while staying in Arles, a town in southern France. The picture depicts the simple life of the French province: a group of houses, a railway in the distance and pedestrians walking along a rather unremarkable street.
The view is two-dimensional. The artist overcame the issue of perspective using techniques heavily influenced by the Japanese prints he was quite fond of; the horizontal and vertical “comma” shaped brush strokes originated in the same way.
The true protagonists of the painting are the blazing colours typical of Mediterranean landscapes, reflected in the yellow streets and houses as well as the deep, brilliant blue of the hope-filled sky that characterizes Van Gogh’s artwork from this period.