Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)

Russian painter, very influential in the beginnings of modern abstract art. A man of multiple talents, Kandinsky played the piano and the cello, wrote plays and poems, and was teaching law at the University of Moscow when he decided, at the age of thirty, to move to Munich and devote himself entirely to painting. By 1910 he had moved through stages of realism and impressionism to entirely non-objective art, of which he said: "This art creates alongside the real world a new world which has nothing to do externally with reality. It is subordinate internally to cosmic laws" (XXme Siecle, 1938). In the same year he wrote his book Concerning the Spiritual in Art, which laid out principles he was to develop throughout his career, and which had a profound influence on other modern painters. Kandinsky presents a picture of the spiritual development of humankind, with the artist as a prophet whose vision draws humanity upward. He saw non-objective art as the appropriate artistic medium for the new era of our spiritual development, and sought to create an art that would be as purely, non-objectively expressive as music. Much of the Spiritual in Art is taken up with a detailed descripition of the spiritual dynamics and significance of colors and forms, often described in musical terms.

In 1912, Kandinsky and Franz Marc founded Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), described in the biographical note to CSA as "a revolutionary group striving for a return to the basic elements inpainting, a primary experience of color and form, with emphasis on the universal and intellectual content of art" (CSA p.6). In 1914 he returned to Moscow, where he was active as a professor and museum director, and founded the russian Academy of Pictorial Sciences. In 1922 he returned to western Europe, to join the Bauhaus in Weimar and later in Desau. From there he moved to Paris, where he stayed until his death.

A collection of Kandinsky's "Compositions", his most carefully thought-out works, with commentary by Mark Harden, may be seen on line at <http://www.glyphs.com/art/kandinsky/>. To see a wider selection of Kandinsky's work, including early representational work, along with a biography and other links, visit: <http://www.oir.ucf.edu/wm/paint/auth/kandinsky/>