February 27, 2024


Arts Eternal

Wassily Kandinsky – The Color Fanatic, Abstract Art Innovator

Wassily Kandinsky was a Russian painter, print maker, and art theorist, who has made significant contributions to the Modern Abstract Art. He was born on December 4, 1866, in Moscow, Russia. He grew in Odessa. As his parents played piano and zither, he also learnt to play the musical instruments. The influence of music is obvious in his works too. In his youth, Kandinsky chose to study law and economics. He subsequently enrolled in the University of Moscow. In 1896, however, prior to leaving Moscow, Wassily Kandinsky saw the exhibition of Monet’s works. He was fascinated by the color techniques and the symbolization in those paintings, particularly in “Haystacks,” depicting the light effects during different seasons. Inspired Kandinsky enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich, Germany, at the age of 30.

During his tenure in the art school from 1896-1911, Wassily started emerging as an art theorist and a painter with music, psychology, and color playing significant roles in his work. He said, “Color is the key. The eye is the hammer. The soul is the piano with its many chords.” Wassily Kandinsky was also inclined to ‘Pointilism’ & ‘Fauvism.’ On these lines, he created a masterpiece in 1903 called “The Blue Rider.” The painting depicted a blue-cloaked rider traveling through a hilly meadow. The shadows of the trees and the rider are depicted in the deep shades of blue. Soon, clash of colors became a trademark of Wassily Kandinsky. During 1906-08, the artist was mostly travelling Europe. He created a series of landscape abstract paintings, “The Blue Mountain.” By this time, Theosophy had also started to influence Wassily spiritually and he wrote a couple of books, “Concerning the Spiritual in Art (1910)” and “Point and Line to Plane (1926)”.

In 1911, Kandinsky, along with his German friend, Franz Marc, founded the society “Der Blaue Reiter” (Blue Rider). The aim of the society was to bridge the gap between the different art forms. This was also the period, when Wassily’s paintings grew more abstract. He used more colors, which when superimposed, provided intriguing appearances. This society held many exhibits. Due to the outbreak of World War I in 1914, however, Kandinsky was unceremoniously sent back to Russia. In 1916, he met Nina Andreievskaia and married her in 1917. During 1918-21, Kandinsky painted little.

In Russia, politicians and critics, both criticized his Expressionist works alike. Disappointed, Kandinsky returned to Germany in 1921. Since 1922, he started teaching at the Bauhaus of Weimar. The Bauhaus was an art school, which focused on innovations like ‘plastic Arts Synthesis.’ During this time, Kandinsky’s style of painting matured with the usage of distinctive geometric figures. In 1923, he painted “On White II,” a mix of different geometric shapes infused with several colors. His other paintings include “Yellow – Red – Blue (1925).”

Due to a sudden vilification by the Nazis in 1933, the Bauhaus were closed and Kandinsky had to move to Paris. During 1934-1944, he found himself quite isolated, as abstract painting was not widely recognized there. His key paintings of this phase include, “Composition IX,” in which the powerful geometric shapes give the impression of the human embryo in the womb. Another painting “Composition X,” depicts some mysterious objects, placed in the front of a black background.

Wassily Kandinsky is definitely an integral contributor to Abstract Art. The 20th century artists consider him with high regard. He died on December 13, 1944, in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France. He said, “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 & for colors, and that you be a true poet. This last is essential.”