Wassily Kandinsky Paintings, Bio, Ideas – The Art Story

Kandinsky russian artist

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wassily kandinsky summary

one of the pioneers of modern abstract art, wassily kandinsky exploited the evocative interplay between color and form to create an aesthetic experience that engaged the sight, sound and emotions of the audience. he believed that total abstraction offered the possibility of deep and transcendental expression and that copying from nature only interfered with this process. Highly inspired to create art that communicated a universal sense of spirituality, he innovated a pictorial language that only vaguely related to the outside world, but expressed volumes about the artist’s inner experience. His visual vocabulary developed through three phases, moving from his early representational canvases and their divine symbolism to his rousing, operatic compositions, to his latest colour, geometric and biomorphic planes. Kandinsky’s art and ideas inspired many generations of artists, from his Bauhaus students to the post-World War II Abstract Expressionists.


  • Painting was, above all, deeply spiritual for Kandinsky. he sought to convey a profound spirituality and the depth of human emotion through a universal visual language of abstract shapes and colors that transcended cultural and physical boundaries.
  • Kandinsky saw non-objective abstract art as the ideal visual mode to express the artist’s “inner need” and convey universal human emotions and ideas. he saw himself as a prophet whose mission was to share this ideal with the world for the betterment of society.
  • Kandinsky saw music as the most transcendent form of non-objective art: musicians could conjure up images in the minds of listeners simply with sounds. he strove to produce similarly object-free and spiritually rich paintings that alluded to sounds and emotions through a unity of sensation.
  • the life of wassily kandinsky

    important art of wassily kandinsky

    wassily kandinsky biography


    Wassily (Vasily) Wassilyevich Kandinsky was born in 1866 in Moscow to well-educated upper-class parents of mixed ethnic origins. His father was born near Mongolia, while his mother was a Muscovite and his grandmother was a German-speaking Baltic. Most of Kandinsky’s childhood was spent in Odessa, a prosperous and cosmopolitan city populated by Western Europeans, Mediterraneans, and a variety of other ethnic groups. Kandinsky showed from an early age an extraordinary sensitivity towards the stimuli of sounds, words and colours. His father encouraged his unique and early gift for the arts and enrolled him in private drawing classes, as well as piano and cello lessons. Despite his early exposure to the arts, Kandinsky did not take up painting until he was in his 30s. Instead, he entered Moscow University in 1886 to study law, ethnography, and economics. Despite the legal focus of his academic activities, Kandinsky’s interest in color symbolism and its effect on the human psyche grew throughout his stay in Moscow. In particular, an ethnographic research trip in 1889 to the Vologda region of northwestern Russia sparked an interest in folk art that Kandinsky carried with him throughout his career. After completing his degree in 1892, he began his career teaching law by lecturing at the university.

    early training

    Despite his success as an educator, Kandinsky abandoned his career as a law professor to attend the art school in Munich in 1896. During his first two years in Munich he studied at the Anton Azbe School of Art, and in 1900 studied with franz von trapped at the academy of fine arts. At the Azbe school he met co-conspirators such as Alexei Jawlensky, who introduced Kandinsky to the munich artistic avant-garde. In 1901, along with three other young artists, Kandinsky co-founded the “Phalanx”, an association of artists that opposes the conservative views of traditional art institutions. Phalanx was expanded to include an art school, where Kandinsky taught, and an exhibition group. In one of his classes at the Phalange School, he met and began a relationship with his student, Gabriele Munter, who became his classmate for the next 15 years. While traveling in Europe and North Africa with Munter from 1903 to 1909, Kandinsky became familiar with the growing expressionist movement and developed his own style based on the various artistic sources he saw on his travels.

    Kandinsky painted his revolutionary work, der blaue reiter (1903) during this transitional period. this early work revealed his interest in disjointed figure-ground relationships and the use of color to express emotions rather than appearances, two aspects that would dominate his mature style. In 1909, he was one of the founding members of the Neue Kunstlervereinigung Munchen (NKVM, or New Munich Artists Association), a group that sought to accommodate avant-garde artists whose practices were too radical for the traditional organizations and academies of munich. epoch. . His paintings became more and more abstracted from the surrounding world as he gradually refined his style. he began to title works improvisation , composition or impression to further emphasize their distance from the objective world and continued to use similar titles in the rest of the career of him.

    period of maturity

    in 1911, in response to the rejection of one of kandinsky’s paintings from the annual nkvm exhibition, he and franz marc organized a rival exhibition and co-founded “der blaue reiter” (the blue rider) – an informal association of nine expressionist artists including august macke, munter and jawlensky. Although their goals and approaches varied from artist to artist, overall the group believed in promoting modern art and the possibility of a spiritual experience through the symbolic associations of sound and color, two themes that were close and dear to Kandinsky. Despite the similarities between the group’s nickname and the title of Kandinsky’s 1903 painting, the artists actually arrived at the name “der blaue reiter” as a result of Marc’s combined love of horses and interest in of Kandinsky for the symbolism of the horseman, together with the predilection of both artists for the color blue. During his brief tenure, the group published an anthology (The Blue Rider’s Almanac) and held three exhibitions. In addition, Kandinsky published On the Spiritual in Art (1911), his first theoretical treatise on abstraction that articulated his theory that the artist was a spiritual being who communicated with and was affected by line. , color and composition. . he produced abstract and figurative works at this time, but his interest broadened into non-objective painting. composition vii (1913) was an early example of him synthesising spiritual, emotional, and non-referential form through complex patterns and brilliant color. the outbreak of the first world war in 1914 led to the dissolution of der blaue reiter, but despite its short tenure, the group initiated and deeply inspired the influential German expressionist style.

    after germany declared war on russia, kandinsky was forced to leave the country. He traveled to Switzerland and Sweden with Munter for almost two years, but returned to Moscow in early 1916, effectively ending their relationship. in moscow he courted and married nina andreevskaia, the young daughter of a czarist colonel. While there, he not only became acquainted with the art of Constructivists and Suprematists such as Vladimir Tatlin and Kazimir Malevich, but also lived in the same building as Aleksander Rodchenko and met other avant-garde luminaries such as Naum Gabo, Lyubov Popova, and Varvara Stepanova. . With the October Revolution of 1917, Kandinsky’s plans to build a private school and studio were thwarted by the communist redistribution of private wealth, and instead he worked with the new government to develop arts schools and organizations. despite his involvement in the development of the new officially sanctioned institutions, he felt increasingly removed from the avant-garde. his search for spirituality in art did not merge with the utilitarian aesthetics championed by the young government and the artists he welcomed.

    in 1921, when the architect walter gropius invited kandinsky to germany to teach at the bauhaus in weimar, he accepted and moved to berlin with his wife, obtaining german citizenship in 1928. as a member of the innovative school, the Kandinsky’s school of art philosophy turned to the meaning of geometric elements, specifically circles, semicircles, straight lines, angles, squares, checkerboards, and triangles. In 1926, he published his second major theoretical work, point and line to plane which outlined his ideas on a “science of painting”. expression of his canvases from before the war to an emphasis on constructively organized compositions.

    late menstruation and death

    When the Nazis closed the Bauhaus school in 1933, Kandinsky was forced to leave his adopted home in Germany and move to France, where he remained for the rest of his life. He and his wife Nina settled in a small apartment in a Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine and obtained French citizenship in 1939. While in France his style changed again and he experimented with biomorphic forms, which were more organic. than the rough geometric shapes of his bauhaus paintings. Although he continued to paint until his senior year, Kandinsky’s output declined during the war and his art fell out of favor as referential images of Cubism and Surrealism came to dominate the Parisian avant-garde. Despite his distance from the aesthetic avant-garde, Kandinsky continued to refine his style and revisited many of his earlier themes and styles during this period, synthesizing elements from all of his work into vast and complex works. . His late style combined the expressive palette of his early non-objective compositions of the early 1910s with the more structured elements he investigated at the Bauhaus, as well as the biomorphic forms popularized by Surrealists such as Joan looked and jean arp.

    The Nazis confiscated 57 of his canvases during their purge of “degenerate art” in 1937, but despite the Fascist ban on his art, American patrons, in particular Solomon R. guggenheim-avidly collected his abstract work. His works became key in shaping the mission of the planned Guggenheim Museum dedicated to modern and avant-garde art. With more than 150 works in the museum’s collection, Kandinsky became known as the “patron saint of the Guggenheim.” He died in December 1944 in relative but serene isolation.

    the legacy of wassily kandinsky

    Kandinsky’s work, both artistic and theoretical, played an important role in the philosophical foundation of later modern movements, particularly abstract expressionism and its variants such as color field painting. His late biomorphic work was highly influential in the development of Arshile Gorky’s non-objective style, which in turn helped shape the New York School aesthetic. Jackson Pollock was interested in Kandinsky’s later paintings and was fascinated by his theories on the expressive possibilities of art, in particular his emphasis on spontaneous activity and the subconscious. Kandinsky’s analysis of the sensory properties of color was immensely influential on painters in the color field, such as Mark Rothko, who emphasized the interrelationships of tones for their emotive potential. Even the artists of the 1980s who worked in the Neo-Expressionist revival of painting, such as Julian Schnabel and Philip Guston, applied their ideas about the artist’s inner expression on canvas to his postmodern work. Kandinsky laid the foundation for much of the expressive modern art produced in the 20th century.

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