Obituary for Eugen Kahler
by Wassily Kandinsky
Eugen Kahler, "Rider" or "At the Circus", 1910-1911
On December 13, 1911, Eugen Kahier, just thirty years old, died in Prague. Death took him tenderly into its arms, without suffering, without anything horrible or ugly. We might say that Kahier died biblically. And thus Kahler’s death corresponded to his life.
He was born into a wealthy Prague family on January 6, 1882. He attended a Gymnasium for five years and after that a business college, a fact that seems incredible to us today: Kahler’s soul was so removed from anything practical; he lived so entirely in the land of his dreams. As early as 1902 he was to go to an art academy in Munich, but he contracted nephritis and was operated on iii Berlin. Despite this first sign of his disease he devoted himself entirely to the study of art. Two years in the Knirr School, one year with Franz Stuck at the Academy in Munich, one year with Habermann, and then Kahler felt strong enough to seek his way alone. His inner voice was so clear, distinct, and precise that he could rely on it utterly. Travel to various cities and countries (Paris, Brussels.Berlin, London, Egypt, Tunis, Italy, Spain) was actually always the same journey in the same country. It was always in the same world which must be called Kahlerland. Now and then the nephritis affected him, and sometimes Kahler had to stay in bed for weeks. But he remained entirely the same: lying in bed, he drew and painted his dreams, he read a great deal and continued to lead his strangely intense inner life. In London, for example, many typical Kahler water colors were painted, rewarding enough as the life’s work of any artist. It was the same in the winter of 1911 in Munich, where, lying feverish in a sanatorium, he painted another long series of marvelous water colors. This continued: traveling from one sanatorium to another, Kahler remained true to himself to his last breath.
Kahler’s delicate, dreaming, serene soul, with its pure Hebrew cast of unappeasable mystical sadness, was afraid of one thing only: the ignoble. And his entirely noble soul did not seem to belong to our time.
Kalier left numerous oil paintings, water colors, drawings, etchings. About a year and a half ago he had a small exhibition in Thannhauser’s Moderne Galerie in Munich; in the usual manner the critics received it haughtily and with didactic admonitions.
A great number of profoundly felt poems, of which he had never spoken, were found after his death. .
Art history has not been as enthusiastic about Kahler as Kandinsky was - so it's hard to find good reproductions online.
His "Liebesgarten" reminds me a lot of the Chicago artist, Seymour Rosofsky.
"At the Circus" may have been his best drawing, but regretfully it has been lost.
I also like this sketch on the back of a landscape drawing. It appears to be Don Quixote and Dulcinea.
One might note that the principle quality which Kandinsky finds in this work is a nobility of soul. He does not discuss the kind of technical issues that Von Busse did in his discussion of Delaunay, nor mention any kind of innovation. His main accomplishment, if you would call it that, was living entirely in the land of his dreams, despite his extensive travel.