Wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky

1866-1944

Wassily Kandinsky trained and practiced as a lawyer in his native Russia. In 1895 he saw Monet's Haystacks at Giverny at a French Impressionist exhibition and was so inspired he moved to Munich to study art in 1897. After successful avant-garde exhibitions, he founded the influential Munich group Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider, 1911-14), along with Franz Marc, and began to paint in an abstract style.

As an accomplished musician, Kandinsky embraced the concept that colour and musical harmony are linked. He used colour in a highly theoretical way, associating tone with timbre, hue with pitch and saturation with the volume of sound. He claimed that when he saw colour he heard music.

His artwork contained greater abstraction than the Impressionists and it cannot be overstated how music influenced his paintings, even down to the names: Improvisations, Impressions and Compositions. His forms evolved from fluid and organic to geometric then finally to pictographic. He was one of the founders of pure abstract art after he saw a picture ‘of extraordinary beauty, glowing with an inner radiance’ only to realise it was one of his own works left up side down.

His most enthusiastic supporter was Solomon R. Guggenheim, founder and benefactor of the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

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