Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky [1866-1944]

Self portrait
Russian painter and art theorist

Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky

was born,

December 4, 1866

[December 16, by the Gregorian calendar]

in Moscow, Russia.

Kandinsky is one of the first creators of pure abstraction in modern painting, known for his lyrical style and innovative theories on nonfigurative art.

In his 1910 treatise Concerning the Spiritual In Art, Kandinsky popularized his belief that abstract colors and forms can be used to express the “inner life” of the artist. He taught this and other lessons at the Bauhaus, the historic Weimar institution that brought together artists including Joseph Albers, Lazlo Maholy-Nagy, and Piet Mondrian, amongst others.

He had a strong interest in the relationship between art and classical music, this theme apparent in his orchestral Composition VI (1913), where colliding forms and colors move across the canvas.

In 1911 Kandinsky played a central role in organizing Der Blaue Reiter, a group of artists named in part after Kandinsky’s favorite color, blue and began completely abstract painting. His forms evolved from fluid and organic to geometric and, finally, to pictographic.

Kandinsky made color theory an important part of the Bauhaus curriculum, and his preoccupation with primary form (basic geometric shapes including the triangle, circle, and square) and primary colors (red, blue, and yellow) influenced a new generation of artists, among them Herbert Bayer and Sonia Delaunay-Terk. During this time, his abstractions became increasingly hard-edged, as in Orange, with the circle emerging as his favored form:

“a precise but inexhaustible variable, that points most clearly to the fourth dimension.”

In this, Kandinsky remained steadfast in his belief in the power of color and form to supplant language and to open our perception to a transcendent plane.

Kandinsky believed that the most advanced art would awaken “emotions that we cannot put into words.” For him, abstraction provided a vehicle for direct expression, circumventing language. He believed that color and form possessed their own affective power, acting on the viewer independently of images and objects.

“Color is a means of exerting direct influence upon the soul.
Color is a keyboard. The eye is the hammer. The soul is the piano, with its many strings.”

His influence on 20th-century art, often filtered through the work of more accessible painters, was profound.

An artist I truly admire and treasure the times [not enough] I was fortunate to see his work in life! As a musician also, I can certainly ‘hear’ the musicality of his paintings too.

So here’s a glimpse of his work & words which in this artist are intertwined
Winter Landscape

“Everything starts from a dot.”

Sky Blue

“Every work of art is the child of its age and, in many cases, the mother of our emotions.”

Impression III (Concert)

“To create a work of art is to create the world.”

Improvisation 7

“An empty canvas is a living wonder… far lovelier than certain pictures.”

Brown with supplement
Houses in Murnau on Obermarkt

“Painting is a thundering collision of different worlds, intended to create a new world in and from the struggle with one another, a new world which is the work of art.”

On White II

“Each color lives by its mysterious life.”

Squares with Concentric Circles

“Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the harmonies, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul.”

Composition 6

“Color is a power which directly influences the soul.”

Various Actions

“Color provokes a psychic vibration. Color hides a power still unknown but real, which acts on every part of the human body.”

Moscow. Red Square

“The sound of colors is so definite that it would be hard to find anyone who would express bright yellow with base notes, or dark lake with the treble.”

Several Circles
Soft Hard
Study for Improvisation V
Improvisation V

“The artist must train not only his eye but also his soul.”

The Cow

“A painter, who finds no satisfaction in mere representation, however artistic, in his longing to express his inner life, cannot but envy the ease with which music, the most non-material of the arts today, achieves this end. He naturally seeks to apply the methods of music to his own art.”

Sunday (Old Russian)

“The artist is not a ‘Sunday child’ for whom everything immediately succeeds. He does not have the right to live without duty. The task that is assigned to him is painful, it is a heavy cross for him to bear.”

Blue Mountain
Composition VI

“Music is the ultimate teacher.”

Deepened Impulse
Colorful Life

“With few exceptions, music has been for some centuries the art which has devoted itself not to the reproduction of natural phenomena, but rather to the expression of the artist’s soul, in musical sound.”

Houses in Munich

“The deeper the blue becomes, the more strongly it calls man towards the infinite, awakening in him a desire for the pure and, finally, for the supernatural… The brighter it becomes, the more it loses its sound, until it turns into silent stillness and becomes white.”

Contrasting Sounds
Composition X

“Our epoch is a time of tragic collision between matter and spirit and of the downfall of the purely material world view.”

Composition VII
Clothes on the Grass Study for ‘Bathers at Asnières’
Inner Aliance
Small worlds I

“The spirit, like the body, can be strengthened and developed by frequent exercise. Just as the body, if neglected, grows weaker and finally impotent, so the spirit perishes if untended.”

Painting with a Red Stain
Improvisation 27 (The Garden of Love II)

“Is beautiful what proceeds from an inner necessity of the soul. Is beautiful what is inwardly beautiful.”

Landscape with Factory Chimney

“That is beautiful which is produced by the inner need, which springs from the soul.”

Murnau, train & castle

“All methods are sacred if they are internally necessary. All methods are sins if they are not justified by internal necessity.”

Landscape with Red Spots, No 2
Yellow-Red-Blue [Huile sur toile]

“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?”

The Blue Rider
Circles in a Circle
Delicate Tension #85
Composition IX
Landscape With Two Poplars

“Imagination is what allows your mind discover.”

Munich-Schwabing with the Church of St. Ursula
Couple on Horseback


Self Portrait

Concerning the Spiritual In Art

[clink on the link above to read]

Music remained an important touchstone for Kandinsky

One of his first proto-abstract canvases had been inspired,

by a concert of Arnold Schoenberg’s atonal work in 1911.

However I have chosen an early tonal work to listen to.

Verklärte Nacht

(Transfigured Night / La Nuit transfigurée), Op.4

by Austrian-born composer, music theorist, teacher, writer, and painter

Arnold Schoenberg [1874 – 1951]

Arnold Schoenberg photo by Man Ray

Pierre Boulez: Membres de L’Ensemble Intercontemporain
Charles-André Linale: violin / violon
Maryvonne Le Dizès-Richard: violin / violon
Jean Sulem: viola / alto
Garth Knox: viola / alto
Philippe Muller: cello / violoncelle
Pieter Strauch: cello / violoncelle

For more information on Kandinsky:







Be Safe

34 replies »

  1. what a visual treat – such an impressive and marvellous range within the abstract definition but am deeply touched by the purity of his shapes – his sensitivities have the mark of a synaesthete

  2. The Arnold Schoenberg music is almost finished. It is very relaxing.
    It was perfect for viewing Kandinsky’s work. His opening self portrait style has been adopted by some street artists.
    His use of colour is brilliant, and his style does vary.
    Interesting artist.
    Well, I may have missed this before, but I got it now.
    Sending love dahling!

  3. From what you’ve shown here, it’s clear that Kandinsky painted in many styles.

    I’ve long been fond of “Verklärte Nacht” but have never managed to enjoy the atonal words that followed.

  4. You know he’s one of my favorites! I’ve seen special exhibits and read his book, but largely ignored the way he connects music and color, since music isn’t as important to me as it is to others. It makes sense that the principles of creation are all connected somehow. Spirit isn’t one-sided. It just occurs to me, viewing your collection here, that perhaps at some subconscious level that very connection accounts for my strong attraction to his work! Thank you, Marina 🙂

    • We connect with art in ways we can’t even begin to fathom. As I mentioned he is one of my favorites too, so I can really understand the connection you speak of, just that he grabbed my musical attention first and then worked his way in! So glad you enjoyed this, my dearest friend! 🤗😘

  5. Another great painter who had a wonderfully wide-range of styles. The Color Life brings to mind Dostoevsky.

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