Wassily Kandinsky (Dec 1866 – Dec 1944) was a Russian painter and is credited with painting the first modern abstract works.
“In Kandinsky’s work, some characteristics are obvious while certain touches are more discrete and veiled; that is to say they reveal themselves only progressively to those who make the effort to deepen their connection with his work. He intended his forms, which he subtly harmonized and placed, to resonate with the observer’s own soul.”
That is such a poignant statement to me. I have been mesmerized by Kandinsky’s works from the age of 12 and my first visit to the Art Museum in which hung 2 of his works. At that time I did not know who it was that offered such a unique view of the struggle between color, shape and definition.
That struggle I later found was with purpose. Long after I had started my own journey with paint and canvas and found myself working with many of the same ideas and concepts, I chanced upon an article about Kandinsky and was stunned to hear words put to thoughts and emotions I myself have had.
I find expressing with words what I am doing on the canvas far more difficult. For me the minute I pick up my paint brush I am in a totally in a different world. Putting words to the motions and interaction that occurs with my work has been far more difficult.
Kandinsky settled in Munich in 1886 and studied first in the private school of Anton Ažbe and then at the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich. He went back to Moscow in 1914, after World War I started. He was unsympathetic to the official theories on art in Moscow and returned to Germany in 1921. There, he taught at the Bauhaus school of art and architecture from 1922 until the Nazis closed it in 1933. He then moved to France where he lived the rest of his life, and became a French citizen in 1939. He died at Neuilly-sur-Seine in 1944.
It is amazing to me how circumstances at the time of his life greatly shaped his work and his reasoning. Kandinsky was deeply spiritual and studied symbols. He was also deeply moved by the biblical implications of the apocalypse. Many of his pieces were an attempt to translate the difficult metaphorical map that the Bible laid down.
Kandinsky is credited with providing a Rosetta stone on which the meaning of these mysterious figures is inscribed. He left a legacy and a primer of abstract art.