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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky (Vasíliy Vasílʹevich Kandínskiy) is credited with painting one of the first recognised purely abstract works. Born in Moscow, he studying law and economics and began painting studies at the age of 30.

Kandinsky was unsympathetic to the official theories on art in Communist Moscow and moved to Germany in 1920. There, he taught at the Bauhaus school of art and architecture from 1922 until the Nazis closed it in 1933. He then moved to France, where he lived for the rest of his life, becoming a French citizen in 1939 and producing some of his most prominent art.

A Tour of Kandinsky’s Art

  • Blue Painting
    • “Blue Painting” by Vasily Kandinsky was produced during his Bauhaus period, in Germany where Kandinsky taught basic design and advanced colour theory and where he also conducted painting classes. His examinations of the effects of forces on straight lines led to his contrasting tones on curved and angled lines. Geometrical elements took on increasing importance, particularly the circle, half-circle, the angle, straight lines and curves. Museum:  The Guggenheim
  • Improvisation 28 (2nd version)
    • “Improvisation 28 (2nd version)” by Vasily Kandinsky (also spelt Wassily) is an expressive abstract that is independent of forms and lines. Music was an important catalyst for early abstract art and Kandinsky used musical terms to identify his works. He called his spontaneous paintings “improvisations” and described elaborate works as “compositions.” In many of Kandinsky’s works, the identification of the forms and the masses present on the canvas require a more elaborate analysis. The inner reality of the art requires more profound observation of the relationship of all the elements and their harmony. Museum:  The Guggenheim
  • Improvisation 27 (Garden of Love II)
    • Improvisation 27 (Garden of Love II) by Wassily Kandinsky depicts three sets of embracing couples surrounded by serpentine forms. One of the embracing couples is to the left of the sun in the centre of the painting. A green and red pair are positioned on top of the sun. The bottom right, a black figure is on top of a white figure. The painting’s subject is indicated in the subtitle “Garden of Love II,” which is a reference to biblical Eden. Museum: Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET
  • Landscape with Factory Chimney
    • “Landscape with Factory Chimney” by Wassily Kandinsky is an abstract landscape with a factory chimney. In many of Kandinsky’s works, the identification of the forms and the masses presented on the canvas require elaborate analysis. The inner reality of the art requires more profound observations of the relationship of all the elements and their harmony. Museum: The Guggenheim
  • Composition VI
    • Composition VI by Kandinsky by Vasily Kandinsky is an artwork which Kandinsky spent nearly six months preparing and procrastinating in the creation of this painting. He initially intended the work to evoke the idea of a flood, destruction and rebirth. However, Kandinsky was overcome by an uncharacteristically long artistic block. His breakthrough came when he started repeating the word “uberflut,” meaning “flood” or “deluge,” and focusing on the sound of the word rather than its meaning. With this technique, he released his mind to focus on the music of the word and Kandinsky was able to complete the painting in three days, all the while repeating the word “uberflut,” like a mantra. Museum: Hermitage Museum
  • Composition 8
    • “Composition 8” by Vasily Kandinsky (also spelt Wassily) is a composition of geometric elements with erratic and unpredictable positions and colours. Kandinsky has restricted himself to paint geometric shapes, with larger objects dominating the left side of the canvas, and on the right, the smaller forms clash and overlap with each other. The shades of colour are all different from each other, and the geometric patterns consist of only critical components like circles, semicircles, angles, rectangles, and lines. Composition 8 was created, during Kandinsky’s Bauhaus era, when he had moved from the Soviet Union to the Weimar Republic because of the increasing restrictions on artistic freedom in the Soviet Union. The Weimar Germany of the early 1920s in which Kandinsky painted Composition 8 was transitioning into a democratic republic and was one of the most liberal countries in Europe. The Bauhaus era provided a nurturing environment for the avant-garde that inspired Kandinsky. Museum: The Guggenheim

Wassily Kandinsky

A Tour of Artists and their Art

Reflections

  • Kandinsky lived in and experienced Russia before and after the Russian Revolution.
  • How did the revolutions in both Russia and Germany impact Kandinsky art?

Wassily Kandinsky Quotes

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‘The more abstract forms, the more clear and direct its appeal.”

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“The arts are encroaching one upon another, and from a proper use of this encroachment will rise the art that is truly monumental.”

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“Of all the arts, abstract painting is the most difficult. It demands that you know how to draw well, that you have a heightened sensitivity for composition and colour, and that you be a true poet. This last is essential.”

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“Color provokes a psychic vibration. Colour hides a power still unknown but real, which acts on every part of the human body.”

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“An empty canvas is a living wonder… far lovelier than certain pictures.”

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“Color is a power which directly influences the soul.”

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“I value those artists who embody the expression of their life.”

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“Colour is a means of exerting direct influence on the soul.”

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“That is beautiful which is produced by the inner need, which springs from the soul.”

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“There is no must in art because art is free.”

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“The artist must train not only his eye but also his soul.”

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“Everything starts from a dot.”
– Kandinsky

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Photo Credit 1) Public Enterprise of PTT Srbija [Public domain]

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