Kandinsky


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He believed that abstract art could establish a line of communication directly from the artist's inner vision to the viewer's imagination and elicit a specific emotional response. In , the New Artists of Munich rejected one of Kandinsky's entries for their exhibit. Kandinsky's first book exploring abstract art theory, "Concerning the Spiritual in Art," was published in In it, he explained the method behind what many critics of the time considered to be his madness: his innovative approach to visual art.

In the treatise, Kandinsky seeks to vanquish what he terms the nightmare of materialism in favor of enlightened spiritualism in art, and makes a case for the similarity of music and visual art in terms of expression. The artist used musical terms such as "improvisation" and "composition" in the titles of his pre-war paintings, emphasizing the link between the two art forms.

As a result, some of the pieces he produced during the second decade of the 20th century retained a few recognizable objects. For example, Winter Landscape from contains the outline of a house and triangular trees while Sketch A from contains a stylized image of a troika pulled by a trio of horses, which are represented by three lines and three indistinct heads. In , Kandinsky returned to Moscow to wait out the war.

He also directed the Moscow Museum for Pictorial Culture. In , he established the Russian Academy of Artistic Sciences. In his own art, he was drawing ever closer to complete abstraction. By the time he left Moscow in , his paintings, such as "White Line" and "Red Spot," contained no recognizable objects.

Wassily Kandinsky: Famous Paintings Analysis and Biography

In , Kandinsky began teaching at the Bauhaus school of applied art and architecture in Weimar, Germany. Bauhaus focused on the unification of the arts for practical applications. When the school moved to Dessau in , Kandinsky followed. He published his second treatise on art theory the following year, entitled "Point to Line to Art. He also ordered to ship about artworks to Munich in preparation for his art exhibition called the Degenerate Art.


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Soon Nazi regime closed down the Bauhaus school, and Kandinsky moved to Paris. Among his paintings of this period was "Development in Brown," a somber collage of rectangles and circles surrounding a colorful banner of triangles. Historians draw a connection between the painting and the brown-uniformed Nazi soldiers who had been appearing throughout Germany in growing numbers.

In Paris, the artist incorporated the sense of order that pervaded the Bauhaus into his work with geometric figures and more noticeable compositional balance. His painting Striped from is a combination of squares and spheres with dissecting lines. Horizontalee from is a black and color checkerboard with distinct geometric or free-form symbols in each square. Two of his final masterworks, Composition IX from and Composition X from , bring together the various elements of Kandinsky's vision and style in entirely fresh ways.

The exceptional vibrancy of the various symbols communicates a joie de vivre absent from his early works such as Composition VI and Yellow-Red-Blue. Just like Shakespeare on literature, and Freud on psychology, Wassily Kandinsky's impact on abstract art is tremendous.

Wassily Kandinsky: 6 Minute Art History Video

Kandinsky's artistic output in terms of volume and consistent quality is phenomenal by any standards and matched by very few artists in any generation. Althought like many artists his paintings show an apparent dissimilarity between the early and mature works.

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Kandinsky showed one consistent theme throughout the 'inner necessity' to paint. As his fellow artist Diego Rivera has suggested, 'Kandinsky's art is not a reflection of life, it is life itself'. The influence of Wassily Kandinsky art theory and Wassily Kankinsky paintings during the artist's lifetime was considerable, both by virtue of his collaboration with his colleagues in the various groups he founded and by the treatises he published.

His writings laid the groundwork for 20th-century movements like Abstract Expressionism. Later artists such as Jackson Pollock would inform their own unique vision with the tincture of Kandinsky's theories. Mark Rothko and his contemporaries in the Color Field school reprised Kandinsky's emphasis on the emotional power of color, and members of the Neo-Expressionist movement in the s were subject to Kandinsky's influence as well. Perhaps more than any other master of his era, Wassily Kandinsky forever changed the way both artists and the world at large would approach - and appreciate - visual art.

These theories are explained in Point and Line to Plane see below. Kandinsky's legendary stage design for a performance of Mussorgsky 's " Pictures at an Exhibition " illustrates his synaesthetic concept of a universal correspondence of forms, colors and musical sounds. In the original designs of the stage elements were animated with modern video technology and synchronized with the music according to the preparatory notes of Kandinsky and the director's script of Felix Klee.

During the studies Kandinsky made in preparation for Composition IV, he became exhausted while working on a painting and went for a walk. Upon returning and seeing the canvas but not yet recognizing it Kandinsky fell to his knees and wept, saying it was the most beautiful painting he had ever seen.

He had been liberated from attachment to an object. As when he first viewed Monet's Haystacks , the experience would change his life. From nearly six months of study and preparation, he had intended the work to evoke a flood, baptism, destruction, and rebirth simultaneously. After outlining the work on a mural-sized wood panel, he became blocked and could not go on. She suggested he simply repeat the word uberflut "deluge" or "flood" and focus on its sound rather than its meaning.

Repeating this word like a mantra, Kandinsky painted and completed the monumental work in a three-day span. Kandinsky's analyses on forms and colours result not from simple, arbitrary idea-associations but from the painter's inner experience. He spent years creating abstract , sensorially rich paintings, working with form and colour, tirelessly observing his own paintings and those of other artists, noting their effects on his sense of colour.

Black and Violet

While impressions are based on an external reality that serves as a starting point, improvisations and compositions depict images emergent from the unconscious, though composition is developed from a more formal point of view. The point of the pyramid is those few, great artists. It is a spiritual pyramid, advancing and ascending slowly even if it sometimes appears immobile. During decadent periods, the soul sinks to the bottom of the pyramid; humanity searches only for external success, ignoring spiritual forces. Colours on the painter's palette evoke a double effect: a purely physical effect on the eye which is charmed by the beauty of colours, similar to the joyful impression when we eat a delicacy.

This effect can be much deeper, however, causing a vibration of the soul or an "inner resonance"—a spiritual effect in which the colour touches the soul itself.


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  • He defines it as the principle of efficient contact of the form with the human soul. The obvious properties we can see when we look at an isolated colour and let it act alone, on one side is the warmth or coldness of the colour tone, and on the other side is the clarity or obscurity of that tone. Clarity is a tendency towards white, and obscurity is a tendency towards black. White and black form the second great contrast, which is static. Any other colour resonates strongly on its neighbors. Gray corresponds to immobility without hope; it tends to despair when it becomes dark, regaining little hope when it lightens.

    Red is a warm colour, lively and agitated; it is forceful, a movement in itself. In his writings, published in Munich by Verlag Albert Langen in , Kandinsky analyzed the geometrical elements which make up every painting—the point and the line. He called the physical support and the material surface on which the artist draws or paints the basic plane , or BP. A point is a small bit of colour put by the artist on the canvas.

    Munich period

    It is neither a geometric point nor a mathematical abstraction; it is extension, form and colour. This form can be a square, a triangle, a circle, a star or something more complex. The point is the most concise form but, according to its placement on the basic plane, it will take a different tonality.

    Wassily Kandinsky

    It can be isolated or resonate with other points or lines. A line is the product of a force which has been applied in a given direction: the force exerted on the pencil or paintbrush by the artist. The produced linear forms may be of several types: a straight line, which results from a unique force applied in a single direction; an angular line, resulting from the alternation of two forces in different directions, or a curved or wave-like line, produced by the effect of two forces acting simultaneously.

    A plane may be obtained by condensation from a line rotated around one of its ends. A vertical line corresponds with height, and offers no support; it possesses a luminous, warm tonality close to white and yellow. A diagonal possesses a more-or-less warm or cold tonality, according to its inclination toward the horizontal or the vertical. A force which deploys itself, without obstacle, as the one which produces a straight line corresponds with lyricism ; several forces which confront or annoy each other form a drama.

    The basic plane is, in general, rectangular or square. This tonality is determined by the relative importance of horizontal and vertical lines: the horizontals giving a calm, cold tonality to the basic plane while the verticals impart a calm, warm tonality. Kandinsky considered the basic plane a living being, which the artist "fertilises" and feels "breathing".

    Each part of the basic plane possesses an affective colouration; this influences the tonality of the pictorial elements which will be drawn on it, and contributes to the richness of the composition resulting from their juxtaposition on the canvas. The above of the basic plane corresponds with looseness and to lightness, while the below evokes condensation and heaviness. The painter's job is to listen and know these effects to produce paintings which are not just the effect of a random process, but the fruit of authentic work and the result of an effort towards inner beauty.

    This book contains many photographic examples and drawing from Kandinsky's works which offer the demonstration of its theoretical observations, and which allow the reader to reproduce in him the inner obviousness provided that he takes the time to look at those pictures with care, that he let them acting on its own sensibility and that he let vibrating the sensible and spiritual strings of his soul. The painting had been on loan to the Kunstmuseum Winterthur , Switzerland, since and was sold to a European collector by the Volkart Foundation, the charitable arm of the Swiss commodities trading firm Volkart Brothers.

    Guggenheim originally purchased the painting directly from the artist in , but it was not exhibited after , and was then sold at auction to a private collector in by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. The play Six Degrees of Separation refers to a "double-sided Kandinsky" painting. The film Double Jeopardy makes numerous references to Kandinsky, and a piece of his, Sketch , figures prominently in the plot-line.

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