The Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky was born on 4 December 1866 in Moscow as the son of a tea merchant. From 1885 he studied law and economics, but became more and more interested in art and painting. Four years after his dissertation and inspired by a French Impressionist exhibition, Kandinsky decided to study painting in Munich in 1892. With his lover and later wife, the painter Gabriele Münter, he undertook numerous study trips, which contributed greatly to his artistic development. He founded various artist associations, among them the Blaue Reiter in Munich in 1911 together with Franz Marc.
During World War I Kandinsky returned to Russia, where he taught at various state institutions and organized art exhibitions. His artistic work was largely suspended during this time. In 1921 he returned to Germany, where he taught at the Bauhaus School in Weimar from 1922. This period ended in 1933 with the closure of the Bauhaus and the defamation of his work as "degenerate art" by the National Socialists. He then went into exile in France, where he died on 13 December 1944 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, a suburb of Paris.
Today Kandinsky is regarded as one of the most important Expressionists, although he himself turned his back on this style after initial enthusiasm - especially for Paul Cezanne or Henri Matisse. In technique and brushstrokes, his lines and coloured dots caught the eye, giving his landscape paintings, which were often rich in contrasts, their own special touch.
However, he soon began to develop his personal style, which was largely based on the idea of pure colours and abstract motifs and liked to call himself the "founder of abstract painting". In 1910 he painted his first abstract painting with watercolours.
His so-called "compositions" are regarded as the climax of his work. Music - Kandinsky already learned cello and piano in his childhood - played an important role in his works, which is also reflected in the names of many of his paintings. One of Kandinsky's greatest wishes was to create a "pure painting", i.e. a painting that possessed the same power and harmony as a musical composition.
Design and Philosophy
In 1911 Kandinsky published his book "Über das Geistige in der Kunst" ("On the Spiritual in Art"), a theoretical study that was to become of fundamental importance for abstract painting. The wide-ranging work sketched the psychological effects of color and the similarities between painting and music. One of his important theoretical theses was the statement that form, unlike color, can exist independently. This led to the conclusion that form had a major influence on colour. The purely optical representation of form and colour was not sufficient for him to create "art".
Over time, he developed his very own pictorial symbolism. Every colour and every form in his works had a certain meaning. For him, as he once described it, colours were the keyboard of a piano that symbolized the soul and was made to sound by the artist's hand. The eyes were the harmony. If he saw colours, according to Kandinsky, he would hear music.
In 1922 Kandinsky was called as a teacher to the Bauhaus in Weimar, where he belonged to one of the most important and influential teachers. During his almost eleven years at school, he developed his ideas on art theory further and taught them to his students in class. For three years he led the workshop for mural painting and taught in the preliminary course "Abstract Form Elements" and "Analytical Drawing". Later, from 1926/27, he also taught free painting.
After the school moved to Dessau in 1926, Kandinsky published his second book on abstract painting "Punkt und Linie zur Fläche", probably the most important Bauhaus book of his time. Here Kandinsky created a passionateläydoyer for abstract and at the same time "absolute" painting.
During his time at the Bauhaus, Kandinsky primarily worked with geometric forms - compasses, triangles as well as lines and dots were in the foreground and form dominated colour. In French exile he then began to combine his Bauhaus insights with the intuitive style of his early years - but always remained true to the abstract style.