Thursday, July 17, 2014

Wassily Kandinsky - Composition to the Founder

The Russian artist, Wassily Kandinsky, is credited with creating the first abstract works. Kandinsky is unusual among artists as his painting studies began in his thirties after a life of studying law and economics. His entire life as an artist faced severe opposition from communism’s less than pleasant opinions on art, Nazis closing down the school he taught in, and working as an artist during the rationing of World War One. He spent his last years as a French citizen in Paris where he was able to create some of his most prominent art.
Wassily Kandinsky went through six different artistic periods. His youth’s paintings were inspired by regional folklore and his childhood love of colors and theorizing on the symbolism behind them. His earlier works were influenced by the impressionistic style of Monet and often featured broad brush strokes. He was particularly struck by Monet’s haystacks and the fact that the color had taken life beyond the subject, which was almost an afterthought.

After this, he turned down a promising law career and entered art school. He enjoyed the time greatly, considering the period to be one of the easiest in his life. He followed Monet’s example capturing landscapes in wide swaths of bright color. Fauvism had become apparent in these early works. The few examples of humans in his paintings rarely had a hint of the standard skin tone. Humans were mostly absent from his work during this time or when present became almost unimportant details.

After the creation of Blue Rider, a mostly unimportant piece in skill but rather of the direction Wassily Kandinsky would take, his paintings began to move away from lines. It was at this period he started to use musical terms to identify his works, seeking to express his art to the feelings of the soul. He began writing during this time, defending the tenants of abstract painting; he quickly found an audience in the English speaking world for both his written and painted works.

When he returned to Russia, he was able to paint little. During these years, he found the love of his life and experienced harsh rejection in his homeland. Wassily Kandinsky finally decided to leave Russia for Germany due to an invitation to come to the Bauhaus to teach. Here he was able to express his views to students and host workshops to augment his color theory. Geometrical elements began to flourish in his work during this time. This era was highly productive for him until the smearing from the Nazi party and the scariness of the World War ultimately prompted him to leave Germany for Paris.

In the last ten years of his life, Wassily Kandinsky created from his apartment. His geometric shapes eased into softer biomorphic forms, and he returned to the color palette from Slavic art. He also began to experiment with texture- using sand to give a rustic feeling to his paintings. During this time, he merged the thoughts of his earlier periods to create layered works that appealed to the observer’s soul.

Some of Wassily Kindinsky's Most Famous Paintings

Composition X was completed in Paris, France 1939

Painted in Alten, Germany 1925

Painted in Munich, Germany 1913