Written By Destiny and Jalen Turner
Edited by Britney Donald
Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky was born on December 16, 1866 in Moscow. Kandinsky is well known for creating the Yellow-Red-Blue oil painting in 1925. The painting depicts both sides of the human mind with the left representing creativity and the right representing logic.
In Kandinsky’s earlier years, he did not start doing abstract art. Kandinsky’s parents saw a future for him in law and economics. By 1886, Kandinsky was enrolled in the Law Faculty of Moscow University. In 1892, Kandinsky received his law degree, graduated with honors and married his cousin, Anna Chimyakina.
Kandinsky continued his academic career until 1895 when he decided to pursue art primarily. By 1896, he was completely emerged into the artistic area and moved to Munich to study at the Munich Academy of Art in 1900. During that time, Kandinsky traveled from Holland to North Africa and many times in Russia which provided him with inspiration. In 1901, he founded the Phalanx, an association for avant-garde artists along with Rolf Niczky, Waldemar Hecker, Gustav Freytag and Wilhelm Huggen.
Kandinsky went through a flurry of marriages. During his time at the Munich Academy of Art, he met a young artist named Gabriela Munter. He became infatuated with Gabriela and divorced Anna in 1903. In 1908, Kandinsky traveled alongside Munter to Europe, participating in painting exhibitions and expanding his artistic skills.
In 1911, Kandinsky formed a group called Blue Rider along with his friend, Franz Marc. The Blue Rider’s goal was to take a more active role in the movement for reviving German art. Composed of Germans, Russians and the French, the Blue Rider became an international community united by a desire to create new art separate from the modern style during that time. In that same year, Kandinsky published the book “Concerning the Spiritual in Art”, which examined inside relations of music and art. At the same time Kandinsky took part in numerous exhibitions in Russia, Holland, France, and Germany
Kandinsky’s art style was very unique compared to the other artists around him. He used a mixture of geometric shapes, color symbolism and psychology to create iconic paintings. Kandinsky’s art is best understood from observing from a distance rather than close up.
When the First World War began, Kandinsky traveled to Switzerland where he composed a book about “point and line”. In November 1914, Kandinsky returned to Moscow where he became acquainted with Nina Andreevskaya, the daughter of a Russian General. Separated from Munster, Kandinsky decided to marry Nina Andreevskaya in February 1917.
Kandinsky’s observation of the war inspired him to alternate impressionist landscapes, romantic fantasies and the abstract. He began using three types of painting techniques: impressions, improvisations and composition. During that time he “saw revolution from my own window”. Many of his paintings contained darker backgrounds with very busy designs.
From 1918 to 1921, Kandinsky was an organizer and the first Director of the Museum of Artistic Culture in Moscow. He also cooperated with the People’s Committee of Education which focused on the field of art training and museum reform. He became the chairman of an All-Russian commission for acquisitions for the museums of the Department of Fine Arts.
Kandinsky had newfound energy for the paintings he made in Moscow. Critics called them “strikingly heterogeneous” and “cool and rational”. During that time, Kandinsky refused to acquaint himself with the propaganda and his abstract art was branded disruptive, which irritated many Communists and other artists. An opportunity rose for Kandinsky to travel to Germany and become the representative of the Moscow Academy of Art to “establish contacts and constant relations with institutions and persons of art”, which Kandinsky was very welcome to doing in 1921.
During 1922 and 1933, Kandinsky returned to Germany where he met the founder of Bauhaus, Walter Gropins to discuss Kandinsky’s future. Gropins offered Kandinsky a teaching opportunity with Bauhaus, a high end school of construction and art design. While there, he was in charge of deeply analyzing the separate elements of a picture such as the circle, half circle and the angles of straight and curved lines. He also experimented with color harmonies, more specifically yellow, red and blue which are now a common staple in his work.
During the 1920s-30s Kandinsky’s name became widely famous. Adding onto his teaching courses, Kandinsky gave lectures. His exhibitions were shown yearly in Europe and America.
In 1931, Bauhaus was closed down due to campaigns from national socialists and in 1932, Bauhaus was closed down.
In 1939, Kandinsky and his wife Nina moved to France and became French citizens. During Kandinsky’s 10 year stay in France, he continued to work and make a living off of his art. He created 144 oil paintings and 250 watercolor pieces of art all of which were proposed to be mechanistic compositions. His last major work was Composition X created in the late 1930s.
On December 13, 1944, Kandinsky died at the age of 78 in his French studio due to a heart attack. He will always be known as the key developer of Abstractionism in modern art.