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Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) was born in Moscow but trained in Munich, after abandoning a legal career. He painted his first purely abstract oil painting in 1910 and was therefore one of the founders of pure abstract painting. He was one of the founders of the Blue Rider and would later teach at the Bauhaus.

He painted Yellow-Red-Blue in 1925. This horizontal oil painting invites a reading from left to right, following the sequence of its title. It is constructed around two compositional centers, and within that framework deals explicitly with the sequence of the three primary colors. Combining two contrasting shapes with three different hues, it generates an intriguing two-versus-three complexity well known to musicians. The aggressively yellow area on the left, constrained by an open-ended rectangle, opposes the large blue circle on the right. Between these two poles lie churning reds in geometric and biomorphic shapes.