Colorful Kandinsky

Today’s post spotlights Russian painter Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky (1866-1944). Born in Moscow to Lidia Ticheeva and Vasily Silvestrovich Kandinsky, he recalled being fascinated and stimulated by color as a child. He attended the University of Moscow, studying law and economics, as far from painting as the east is from the west. His interest in art began at the mature age of 30, at which point he settled in Munich, studying at Anton Ažbe‘s private school.

Kandinsky compared painting to composing music, writing, “Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand which plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul.” Check out these good vibrations.


Munich Schwabing with the Church of St. Ursula

He focused on landscapes and towns, rather than human figures, except for Sunday, Old Russia (1904). Kandinsky spent the years from 1906 to 1908 travelling across Europe as an associate of the Blue Rose symbolist group of Moscow, settling in the Bavarian town of Murnau. During this time, The Blue Mountain (1908–1909) was painted, demonstrating his trend toward abstraction. I’m not keen on abstract art, so I’m delighted that we can make out horses and riders, as well as said blue mountain.

blue mountain

But Kandinsky was not a one-trick pony. In addition to painting, he was an art theorist. He helped found the Neue Künstlervereinigung München (Munich New Artists’ Association). When the group dissolved two years later, he then formed a new group, the Blue Rider (Der Blaue Reiter). At the onset of WWI in 1914, he returned to Russia. In 1917, at the age of FIFTY-ONE , he finally broke down and got married to a woman named Nina Andreievskaya. Again, he compared music to art. Imagine this being said in a Russian accent:

The sun melts all of Moscow down to a single spot that, like a mad tuba, starts all of the heart and all of the soul vibrating. But no, this uniformity of red is not the most beautiful hour. It is only the final chord of a symphony that takes every colour to the zenith of life that, like the fortissimo of a great orchestra, is both compelled and allowed by Moscow to ring out.

Nice as that sounds, it was time to get going. In 1921, he was invited back to Germany to attend the Bauhaus (no, not Peter Murphy’s goth-rock band) school of art, where he began teaching until the Nazis closed it in 1933. Not crazy about Nazis, he left Germany for France, where he spent the remainder of his life.

In 2012, Christie’s auctioned Kandinsky’s Studie für Improvisation 8 (Study for Improvisation 8), a 1909 view of a man wielding a broadsword in a rainbow-hued village, for $23 million. I bet that would have been music to his ears.

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24 Responses to Colorful Kandinsky

  1. This just shows it’s never too late to find or pursue your true passions!

  2. wdydfae says:

    I always liked Kandinksy, even his abstract stuff, which seemed to have warm colors and, yes, good vibrations! But these are nice ones that I mostly hadn’t seen before. Like that Munich view a lot. A lot of range here. The landscapes seem like Klimt or Cezanne or Chagall. (There, I finished my cocktail party art spiel.) Great write up!

  3. kerbey says:

    Reblogged this on I Don't Get It and commented:

    Please visit the Blog of Funny Names today for your Art History lesson.

  4. Benson says:

    I think he had a great sense of color and whimsy. He certainly had his own rules of composition. I don’t think his last name was all that odd. Now his first two. That’s different. But I don’t have much room to talk.

  5. markbialczak says:

    His art is eye Kandinsky, Kerbey. Yupper.

  6. ksbeth says:

    isn’t he a cousin of buttinski?

  7. Liz says:

    he seems like a relatively normal guy for a famous historical artist. Our big art museum has a few of his pieces and I always have to look at them for a bit when I visit. His paintings are fun. (this is why I am not resident art critic–“fun” is the best I can do)

    Nicely done, Kerbey. Are you an art fan?

    • kerbey says:

      I studied a bit in college the first couple of years, but have not since then. You know more than I do, I am sure. I haven’t been to an art museum in 20 yrs.

  8. Arto says:

    Ah yes, I see he has the required facial hair stylings to go with his impressive multi-syllabic name and of course the distinguished career. Distinguished looking fellow, too.

    Just reading this made me want to get a monocle and a plate of the finest bruschetta.

  9. Dave says:

    Splendid! Simply mahvelous! Good use of a Bauhaus reference too – I haven’t heard that band in years, but I saw them at Coachella many moons ago!

  10. I love the colors in the paintings, nice eye Kandi-nsky. So cheery for fall. Nice post, Kerbey.

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