“Technically, every work of art comes into being in the same way as the cosmos – by means of catastrophes, which ultimately create out of the cacophony of the various instruments that symphony we call the music of the spheres. The creation of the work of art is the creation of the world.” Wassily Kandinsky.
Wassily Kandinsky was born in Moscow where he studied economics, law and ethnography there. In 1889, upon receiving a commission by the Russian Imperial Society of Friends of Natural History, Anthropology and Ethnography, Kandinsky embarked on a solo expedition to the remote Vologda province where he was impressed by native folk art. After being deeply moved by Monet’s ‘Haystack’ in 1896, he moved to Munich to study painting. From 1901 to 1904, Kandinsky was heavily involved in the Phalanx exhibition society. After this he lived in a number of locations around Europe.
In 1909 Kandinsky began what was to be his most powerful and ambitious project entitled ‘Compositions’. The first seven were produced between 1909 and 1913 and the final three in 1923, 1936 and 1939. At the same time he also commenced his ‘Impressions’ series, and both these projects were to be known as the ‘Improvisations’ series. In these he removed any representational aspects in order to work in a purely abstract form. In a collection of his writings Concerning the Spiritual in Art (first published in 1912), Kandinsky explained how mysticism and theosophy were important to his attempts to express deep emotions in his work. When his work was rejected by the Neue Künstlervereinigung group, he set up the Blaue Reiter (the Blue Rider group) in 1911 with Franz Marc and August Nache. For the next three years, Kandinsky produced an enormous amount of work and with a number of prestigious exhibitions around the world achieved considerable success. Paintings from this period include ‘Composition VI’ (1913) and ‘Light Picture’ (1913).
With the outbreak of the First World War, Kandinsky was forced to leave Munich and return to Russia where he became a respected teacher in various schools before taking up a post at the Bauhaus in 1922. Despite the geometrical precision that was the Bauhaus style, Kandinsky experimented with such forms as circles, triangles and uneven lines. In 1922 Kleine Welten was published containing examples of possibly Kandinsky’s finest work as a graphic artist, and at this time he broadened his artistic range to designing stage sets, costumes and ceramic tiles.
In both his writings and paintings, Kandinsky has been enormously influential. He was intrigued by the possibility of conveying a range of emotions through the variety of colours and lines he chose to use. Kandinsky was influenced by a great many styles throughout his career, such as Art Nouveau at the turn-of-the-century, Symbolism around 1910 in his interest in the similar effects caused by both colours and sounds, and Surrealism towards the end of his career in ‘Sky Blue’ (1940) for example. His many works continue to be exhibited in many galleries worldwide.