Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)

Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky  was a Russian painter and art theorist.Kandinsky is generally credited as the pioneer of abstract art.

Kandinsky, Composition VIII, 1923

Image source: https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/1924

One of the pioneers of abstract modern art, Wassily Kandinsky exploited the evocative interrelation between color and form to create an aesthetic experience that engaged the sight, sound, and emotions of the public. He believed that total abstraction offered the possibility for profound, transcendental expression and that copying from nature only interfered with this process.

Life and education

Wassily Kandinsky photographie

Wassily Kandinsky was born on December, 16th (4), 1866 in Moscow, in a well-to-do family of a businessman in a good cultural environment. In Kandinsky’s works of his childhood period we can find rather specific color combinations, which he explained by the fact that “each color lives by its mysterious life”. In the year of 1886 he went to Moscow and entered Law Faculty of Moscow University, then in 1896 the famous in Derpt University in Tartu, where at that time the process of russification was taking place, a thirty-year-old Kandinsky was appointed Professor to the Department of Law, but at this particular time he decided to give up a successful career to devote himself completely to painting. Later on Kandinsky recollected two events, which had affected this decision: his visiting an exhibition of the French impressionists in Moscow in 1895 and an emotional shock he experienced from K. Monet’s, “Haystacks”, and an impression of Rihard Wagner’s “Lohengrin” at the Bolshoi Theatre.

Image source: https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasili_Kandinski

Early art and color studies

In 1896 he left for Munich, at that time considered to be one of the centers of the European art, and entered Anton Azbe’s (Yugoslavian artist) prestigious private painting school , where he received the first skills in image composition, in work with line and form. However, rather soon the school ceased to satisfy his needs.

Kandinsky, Winter landscape, 1909

Image source: https://www.wassilykandinsky.net/work-123.php

During that period Kandinsky got acquainted with a young artist, Gabriela Munter, and in 1903 he divorced his wife, Anna Chimyakina. The following five years he with Gabriela travelled across Europe, being engaged in painting and participating in exhibitions. Having returned to Bavaria, they settled down in a small town of Murnau at the bottom of the Alps. It was the beginning of the stage of intensive and fruitful search. The works of those years were basically landscapes, based on color discords. The play of color spots and lines was gradually superseding images of reality

The Blue rider

Kandinsky, Der blaue reiter, 1903

Image source: https://www.copia-di-arte.com/

Kandinsky due to his active creativity and organizational skills always attracted anything intellectual, restless, striving, which was in the world of art of that time. Thus, in 1901 he founded Phalanx, an art group, in Munich and started a school, in which he taught himself. For four years Kandinsky had arranged twelve exhibitions of the painters who were Phalanx’s members. In 1909 he together with Jawlensky, Kanoldt, Kulbin, Munter and others, co-founded The New Group of Artists, Munich (MKUM) and became President. In 1911 Kandinsky together with his friend, Frantsem Mark, an artist, established a group called Blue Rider (Blaue Reiter).

The teaching at Bauhaus

Kandinsky, Circles in circle, 1923

After WWI, returning to Germany, Kandinsky accepts an invitation of Walter Gropius, the founder of the well-known Bauhaus (the Higher school of construction and art designing) and he and Nina moved to Weimar where Kandinsky headed a fresco workshop. He again taught and developed the ideas. They dealt, first of all, with the deep analytical studying of separate elements of a picture, which resulted into “Point and Line to Plane” in 1926. Kandinsky also worked much and experimented with color, applying his analytical foundation and the conclusions in his teaching. Kandinsky’s works again underwent changes: individual geometrical elements increasingly entered the foreground, his palette was sated with cold color harmonies which, at times, are perceived as a dissonance, the circle is used differently, as a sensual symbol of perfect form.

Image source: https://www.wassilykandinsky.net/work-247.php

Point and Line to Plane

In this book, Kandinsky digs deeper in the research of interaction of nature, arts, and human, though from a concrete position already. Starting from the centerpiece, a point, he studies its basic properties and capabilities: at first academically, then in fine art and other arts, and finally in natural and practical contexts. A line is born from a moving point. Multiple lines interact on the “basic plane” to produce a composition: “a composition is nothing other than an exact law-abiding organization of the vital forces which, in the form of tensions, are shut up within the elements.”

Kandinsky, Page from Point and Line to Plane, 1926

Image source: http://sgstudyblog.blogspot.com/

Kandinsky develops his theory in a peculiar language, where geometrical, physical, aesthetic, and spiritual concepts coexist naturally. This so-called synesthetic text is not just academic theorization, but observations and conclusions supported by experience of a reputable artist. Kandinsky reflects on creating “the science of art” or “artistic science”. As for practical application, the artist’s paintings displayed today in museums are his true scientific experiments.

Info source: https://www.wassilykandinsky.net                                                            https://www.theartstory.org/artist/kandinsky-wassily/                                         https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wassily_Kandinsky                                                     https://www.britannica.com/biography/Wassily-Kandinsky