There is no use pretending it has been a brilliant season. It hasn’t, and no amount of sentimental recall can disguise the fact. During the holidays there was some glitter in the pale winter sun, but on closer examination it proved to be only the tinsel on a forest of Christmas trees. Not that there haven’t been moments; quite the contrary. A retrospective as important as any Paris has seen in five years, plus a promising debut or two and a full scale controversy, seem about all one year can reasonably be expected to hold. But considering the quantity of important work-in-progress in Paris, the plastic pot-au-feu was very thin indeed.
The fall provided, among other things, a fairly large Kandinsky show at Maeght. Something of a gala, this, since there is a considerable segment of the art world for which the late Wassily Kandinsky could do no wrong (this becomes increasingly apparent with each new exhibition of his ‘School’). The Maeght selection was fresh and unexpected; most of the canvases had never before been seen in Paris. The major flaw in the show was that the work was decidedly uncharacteristic: the paintings, although done over a fifteen year period, were transitional—an uneasy marriage of organic and geometric forms arranged in fairly conventional patterns within the confines of the frame. While clearly this amounts to no aesthetic crime, it is a misleading view of Kandinsky’s important contributions to contemporary sensibility. His early experiments with uncontained composition and explosive, organic forms, his later, mathematical balances were seldom apparent in the collection. The resultant exhibition was more a curiosity than a monument to a great painter.