Born: 1866, Moscow, Russia Died: 1944, Neuilly-sur-Seine, France Education: Academy of Art, Munich Style: Abstract Expressionism Bauhaus:

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1 KANDINSKY

2 Early Life Russian-born painter and educator Wassily Kandinsky a pioneer of abstract art was known for his unique views on form and function, and the synthesis of musical with visual art. Born: 1866, Moscow, Russia Died: 1944, Neuilly-sur-Seine, France Education: Academy of Art, Munich Style: Abstract Expressionism Bauhaus: Born in Russia, to a family of German aristocrats, Wassily Kandinsky was always fascinated by color. After studying many subjects in school, including law, economics, and ethnography, he took a job teaching law at the University of Moscow. The artist in his studio, 1936 Painting The Dominant Curve.

3 (Top) Odessa Port, 1898 Example of Impressionist-style. (Bottom) Sevres, 1901 Example of Post-Impressionist-style Early Works Metamorphosis At the age of 30, Kandinsky left a career in law to become a painter. Inspired by Monet s Impressionist depiction of light in his paintings of haystacks, Kandinsky enrolled in school at the Munich Academy. Around this time, Kandinsky was also influenced by the music of German composer Richard Wagner, and Spiritualist Helena Blavatsky. He began to formulate ideas on painting and color related to musical composition and Theosophy or the belief that creation and life is based on geometric shapes, starting from a single point. From these influences, he moved his style towards something more akin to Post-Impressionism. Kandinsky s metamorphosis into working abstractly followed a long period of development and maturation, seeing his work evolve throughout a series of artistic periods. A central aspect throughout all his work what he referred to as inner necessity was a devotion to beauty, fervor of spirit, and spiritual desire. Due to the start of WWI, the group was forced to disband, temporarily sending Kandinsky back to his homeland of Russia. Picture with a Circle, 1911 Said to be the first abstract painting ever made. "Colour is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand which plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul."

4 The Blue Rider Formed in 1911 by Russian emigrants and native German artists, Der Blaue Reiter or The Blue Rider was a response to the public rejection of Kandinsky s abstract painting Last Judgment. It also served as a catalyst to the Expressionism movement, During this period, Kandinsky, and others in the group, shared a common desire to search for and express spiritual truths through their art. By use of color, symbolism, and a spontaneous approach to painting, they moved towards an intuitive abstraction of their world view. Due to the start of WWI, the group was forced to disband, temporarily sending Kandinsky back to his homeland of Russia. Der Blaue Reiter, 1903 Oil Painting on Canvas

5 Return to Russia Upon returning to Russia during the First World War, Kandinsky became heavily involved in art education. Although not painting much during this time, he began teaching classes in form and color analysis, furthering his ideas on color theory and his personal symbolism. (Top) Composition #244, 1898 Example of Composition. (Bottom) Improvisation, 1901 Example of Improvisation. When he did paint, they were of two bodies of work Compositions and Improvisations. Like a symphony, his Compositions were of massive scale, consciously planned out, and expressive of a transcendent and abstract nature. Improvisations were sudden, unconscious expressions of the artist s inner nature. His spiritual and Expressionistic approach to art was not widely accepted in Russia, and so, when invited by Walter Gropius to teach at the Bauhaus, he returned to Germany, settling in Weimer.

6 The Bauhaus Bauhaus Dessau Opening, 1926 (L to R) Kandinsky and wife Nina, George Muche, Paul Klee, and Gropius. Kandinsky was brought to the Bauhaus while it was still in Weimar, where he taught the preliminary design course, as well as the advanced theory courses. He also taught workshops on painting that blended with color theory and form psychology. Untitled, 1923 Pen and Ink on Paper. It was during his time at the Bauhaus that he developed much of his studies color and form and their spiritual and psychological effects, culminating with the publication of his book, Point and Line to Plane (1926). Kandinsky believed that the triangle embodied active and aggressive energy, and the square represented emotions of peace and calmness. He suggested the circle represented the spiritual realm as the shape that embodied both the concentric and the eccentric. Therefore, much of his work during this time were consumed by the circle in its full shape, or dissected into parts.

7 Black Relationship, 1924 Watercolor and Ink on Paper The Bauhaus In 1925, after funding was cut by the local conservative government, the Bauhaus closed its doors in Weimar and moved to Dessau. Kandinsky moved with the school and continued to teach his courses for the remaining years that the Bauhaus was operational even moving with the school to Berlin in 1932 under the direction of Mies van der Rohe. Due to pressure from the growing Nazi party, the Bauhaus was forced to close its doors one year later, in Kandinsky, representing everything that Adolf Hitler was against, was labeled a degenerate and fled to France where he would live and work for the remaining decade of his life.

8 Pedagogy During his period at the Bauhaus, Kandinsky offered various courses, published his book Point and Line to Plane a continuation of his theory of art taught at the Bauhaus and produced approximately 350 paintings and 584 watercolors, gouaches and tempera paintings. In his position teaching the Preliminary design course, Kandinsky used basic geometrical shapes and primary colors to enable students to abstract color and form. As the Form Master in the Painting Workshop, Kandinsky s teaching extended beyond the act of brush to canvas, to discussing the emotional and psychological implications of color, rhythm, tension, and composition. Student Coursework, 1930 Graphic analysis of music according to Kandinsky s theories.

9 Synethesia Much like his Bauhaus contemporaries, Kandinsky was interested in the gesamtkunstwerk or synthesis of the arts. Even prior to joining the Bauhaus, Kandinsky was interested in musical composition, poetry, and the theater. He was interested in the way that interrelationship of the arts could influence human perception. Kandinsky was known to experience synethesia, or the transposition of experience from one sense to another, from a young age. It is recorded that as a young boy, he would hear colors as he painted them. Small Worlds, 1922 Lithograph Print. As he aged, Kandinsky became more and more influenced by the synethesia he experienced between music and color. He saw the ultimate synthesis of the arts to be a stage composition, titled Yellow Sound, that would combine color with movement, spoken word, and music, though the performance was never fully realized.

10 The Great Synthesis After the closing of the Bauhaus, Kandinsky left Germany to Paris. This period marked a synthesis of Kandinsky s past work styles, the theories developed during his time at the Bauhaus, and his current life. These paintings were marked by non-geometric, amoeba-like shapes that represented his current inner-self. Kandinsky intended for these paintings to warrant deep observation in order to resonate within the viewer s soul. The imagery and symbolism used throughout his final body of work progressively reveals itself to the observer, connecting on a deeper, spiritual level. It was during this time in Paris, and up until his death in 1944, that Kandinsky painted some of his most famous works. Striped, 1934 Oil with Sand on Canvas.

11 Yellow-Red-Blue, 1925 Oil on Canvas.

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