Wassily Kandinsky

Written by Blaire Chandler-Wilcox
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Wassily Kandinsky (Russian 1866-1944) is considered the originator of the Abstract art movement. After hearing Wagner's Lohengrin at the age of 30, he left the legal profession and devoted himself to art. Though also trained as a musician, Kandinsky chose to pursue the emotional impacts of music through visual mediums.

Wassily Kandinsky: Painter, and Theoretician

He was influenced early on by the work of Gaugin and other Post-Impressionists. Ultimately, however, Fauvism influenced his work through the rest of his days. It was exposure to Fauvism, however, that left the most impact. Fauvists practiced an expressionist style which was characterized by bold distortion of forms and exuberant color. Not long after his discovery of Fauvism, he developed his own ideas about the power of pure color and nonrepresentational painting.

In 1912, Wassily Kandinsky completed his first artistic effort in this style. The same year, he also published his first book on the subject, Concerning the Spiritual in Art. This important theoretical work examines the psychological impact of color, and the analogous relationship of music and art.

Over the course of his career Wassily Kandinsky moved from tumultuous, unrestrained explosions of color to more geometrically precise compositions. In addition to publishing many respected treatises on music, art and geometric forms, he also became a renowned instructor. He joined the faculty at Bauhaus, an art and architecture school in Germany. Bauhaus had a mandate that design should not merely reflect society, but had an obligation to actually improve it. In 1933, he moved to Paris, where he continued to paint until his death.


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