Wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky is one of my favourite modern artists. I adore his art and I can stare at a piece for hours and hear music coming from it. I loose myself in the colours, shapes and composition. Kandinsky is said to have synaesthesia which meant he could see colours when he listened to music. He would paint the colours he saw as he listened. Is it just a coincidence I hear music when I see his paintings or am I truly tuning into what he channeled in his art.

Composition in yellow
Composition In yellow (1923) By Wassily Kandinsky

Lend your ears to music, open your eyes to painting and…stop thinking! Just ask yourself whether the work has enabled you to ‘walk about’ into a hitherto unknown world. If the answer is yes, what more do you want? 

Wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky was born in Moscow on the 4th December 1866. He trained as both a musician and an economics teacher. He was fascinated and stimulated by colour as a child which continued throughout his life. At the age of 30 he gave up teaching to become an artist.

Impressionism

Impressionism influenced Kandinsky to become an artist. He had a fascination with Monet’s Haystacks At Sunset painting. When he looked at it he was confused and enchanted because he couldn’t actually see a real haystack, only the impression of one. The group of French artists called the Impressionists like to go against the grain and do things differently. This attracted Kandinsky as he saw something of himself in this group of experimental artists.

The Blue Rider Group

Through his love of impressionism, Wassily Kandinsky became a leading member of a group of Munich Artists called the Blue Rider Group from 1911 to 1914. The artists associated with this group were pioneers of modern art of the 20th century. The group broke up during the first world war and Kandinsky had to go back to his home country of Russia.

In his early days as an artist Kandinsky would do wood block printing which left the impression of the wood grain on the paper. Later on he started to paint in bright oil colours. He used colours to express emotion rather than reality. In 1921 he left his native Russia and returned to Germany to teach at The Bauhaus Art school where he developed a minimal way of making art.

His work became more geometric and shapes and colours started to take on a symbolic meaning to him. For Kandinsky white represented endless possibilities available in life and black meant non exisience and death.

On White II 1923
On White II (1923) shows the endless possibilities of life being interrupted by death.

Wassily Kandinsky Spirituality

Kandinsky believed that modern art had the potential for spiritual experience and he wrote a book in 1911 called Concerning The Spiritual In Art. He believed that the artist is a spiritual being who communicates through lines, colours and compositions. He was a deeply spiritual man and one of his influences Helena Petrova Blavatsky the co-founder of the Theosophical Society (1875) said there is a higher, immaterial realm beyond the visible world.

Colours produce a spiritual vibration, the impression they create is important only as a step towards this Vibration

Wassily Kandinsky.

Spiritual, emotional and out of this world experience comes through complex patterns and brilliant colours.

Wassily Kandinsky

On the performance of Wagner’s opera Lohengrin – “I saw all my colours in spirit, before my eyes. Wild, almost crazy lines were sketched in front of me”.

Wassily Kandinski

Composition 7 was an example of Kandinsky’s theory of this and how emotional and out of this world experience comes through complex patterns and brilliant colours.

Composition 7 1913
Composition 7 (1913) By Wassily Kandinsky.

While Kandinsky was in Germany in the 1930’s the Nazi party came to power and they closed down the Bauhaus school of art. They didn’t allow free expression. So they labelled any artwork that didn’t conform to their own ideals of beauty as degenerate.

Wassily Kandinsky’s art was banned and he once again he had to leave Germany. Some of his work was destroyed by the Nazis and at the start of World War II, Kandinsky moved to France where he stayed to create art until his death on the 13th December 1944.

Squares With Concentric Circles

This was not a main composition. It was a small drawing he had created for a colour study on how different colour combinations are perceived that the painter used in his creative process as a support material. 

Squares with Concentric circles 1913
Color Study. Squares with Concentric Circles (1913). A small drawing that has become one of Kandinsky’s most popular works.

Composition No 8

One of my personal favourites. Wassily said of this composition “color is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another purposely, to cause vibrations in the soul.” 

Composition no 8 1923
Composition no 8 (1923) By Wassily Kandinsky.

Strandszene

Kandinsky may have painted a glimpse of the immaterial realms beyond in this painting. A rich patch of red at the top of the canvas and underneath human figures working in the material world.

Strandszene 1909
Strandszene (1909) By Wassily Kandinsky.
Wassily Kandinsky signature

I feel a big connection to Wassily. His paintings, how they make me feel, the sounds they create in my mind and his theories on the spiritual in art of which I am also a believer. He was a striking man with an appreciation for the esoteric. He understood the vibrations around us which influence our daily lives. Had I known this great man, I like to think we would have hit it off. We certainly would have a lot to talk about while we listened to Wagner’s Lohengrin.

All Wassily Kandinsky’s artwork on this blog is used according to public domain usage rights.

You may also like