Wassily Kandinsky Russia, 1866-1944


Wassily Kandinsky (b. 1866, Moscow, Russia; d. 1944, Neuilly-sur-Seine, France) is widely recognized as one of the forefathers of abstraction. A fierce advocate of non-figurative art, Kandinsky blended lyricism, spirituality, and music into his idiosyncratic practice. In 1910, the artist wrote Concerning the Spiritual in Art, an unofficial manifesto of the Blaue Reiter movement, founded by Kandinsky and his contemporaries Franz Marc and Gabriele Münter. In Concerning the Spiritual in Art, Kandinsky wrote about synesthesia, a neurological occurrence in which an individual can experience sound and color through several senses simultaneously. The Blaue Reiter group incorporated the spiritualism behind Kandinsky’s art theory into its avant-garde experimentation. When World War I broke out in 1914, Kandinsky returned to his homeland of Russia and worked for the Department of Fine Arts of the People's Commissariat for Education. While in exile, the artist was exposed to the work of several Suprematists and Constructivists including Kazimir Malevich, Vladimir Tatlin and Aleksander Rodchenko, all of whom would have a lasting influence on Kandinsky’s incorporation of geometric abstraction into his painting. Between the years of 1922 and 1933, Kandinsky taught at the Bauhaus alongside Paul Klee and Oskar Schlemmer. While the artist’s early years at the Bauhaus were marked by a strong penchant towards hard-edged abstraction, Kandinsky spent much of his time in Germany developing his singular approach to Constructivist aesthetics, which, in its pared-down abstraction of shape and line, distinctly incorporates his personal subjectivity and expressiveness. Not long after the dissolution of the Bauhaus under the rising Nazi regime, Kandinsky fled Germany to spend the remainder of his life in Paris where he would re-focus his abstraction to biomorphic and organic forms that verged on the narrative.