Wassily Kandinsky, Russian (1866 - 1944)

Wassily Kandinsky was born in Moscow, on December 4,1866. His uncompromising attitude to life and art, his faith in the unconquer-ability of the human spirit, came with him from Russia. He remained Russian to the last, although both by blood and spirit he was related to western Europe as well to Asia. However, from his thirtieth year on, from 1896 to his death in 1944, he lived in Germany and in Paris, except for a seven-year stay in Moscow between 1914 and 1921.


Late in 1896, Kandinsky arrived in Munich with his young wife. At the beginning of 1897 he enrolled in the Azbe School, and stayed there for two years, for the most part producing drawings only. It was here Kandinsky became acquainted with Alexej von Jawlensky. In 1901, Kandinsky composed the poster for the first exhibition of the Phalanx group, which he founded. From 1901-1903, in addition to paintings and graphic works Kandinsky was engaged in research into technical problems: he tested various plants, and glues, he painted with oil, tempera, and other combinations of materials. In 1904 and 1905 he was awarded medals in Paris; 1905 he was elected member of the jury of the Salon d’Automne, and early in 1906 he was awarded the Grand Prix. Kandinsky in 1907, left Paris to go back to Munich.

1908 to 1914 was considered the Murnau Period and Blaue Reiter. In 1908 he visited the southern Tyrol and Murnau. The years 1908 and 1909 were transitional: they mark a stage preliminary to the period that extended until the outbreak of the war in 1914. After 1910 there is a shift in Kandinsky’s art away from the literal use of Russian motifs toward a more allusive, spiritual element that is reminiscent of Russian Symbolism. This plays a significant role in his progress toward abstraction and his creation of Compositions.

Kandinsky completed various pieces in 1922. He had finished six paintings and twenty-five watercolors. This is also the year that Kandinsky began to keep a catalogue of his watercolors. During 1919-1923, Kandinsky wrote for the Bauhaus-Buch two short theoretical essays. From 1922 to 1925, Kandinsky was situated in Germany and had a period of immense creativity.


Zeichnung Fur 'Improvisation Mit Rot-Blauem Ring'


The move to Dessau in 1925 brought many changes in Kandinsky’s outward circumstances, but not in his art: he continued to work and teach. During these years at Dessau, Kandinsky accomplished an enormous amount of work; down to 1930 the number of his paintings and watercolors grew steadily, although his teaching and administrative duties made great demands on his time and energies. He wrote a number of articles for newspapers; in 1928, he staged Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition for the Dessau theatre, and in 1931 prepared a wall design in ceramics for the Architectural Show in Berlin. The latter of the two works are an organic part of his painted oeuvre, and contibutions to that, "synthesis of the art" with which Kandinsky was intensively concerned during these years. He left Dessau in the Spring of 1933.

In 1933, Kandinsky moved to Paris and remained there until 1944, all of his friends, and collectors were still in Germany at this time. In contrast to earlier periods, the emotional and expressive character of color takes a subordinate place in these works, color no longer representing a psychic element, but becoming more than ever a thing, a quality in its own right. Kandinsky obtained his greatest tensions from opposing the geometric elements to the free, and, so to speak, living elements, and by this means arrived at more comprehensive higher forms. Even these are not his ultimate goal, however, for here color both of itself and in co-existence is also present. Other essential tensions were obtained by Kandinsky from opposing exact forms both flat and linear deliberately inexact ones, complete forms fragmentary forms, main forms to merely ornamental ones, organic amoeba-like elements to elements suggesting technology (serrated forms), static elements to dynamic, symbolic forms (cross) to everyday forms (ladder), and so on. In addition there are other contrasts, such as those between smooth and rough, transparent and opaque, full and empty, the one and the many (the number of centers), harmonious arrangements and unharmonious

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