They say colors elicit distinct emotions. For the Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky, shapes functioned in much the same way. The triangle, with its sharp edges, symbolized action and aggression; the square, calm; and the circle, the spiritual. A new exhibition of paintings and works on paper charts Kandinsky’s path from figurative Fauvism to avant-garde abstraction, an evolution fueled by his desire to liberate painting from the constraints of reality—to rid the triangle of its duties as an instrument, for instance, and let it become the embodiment of rage on the canvas. —J.V.
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