Wassily Kandinsky

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Solomon Higgs
Dr. Watson
HUMA 1153
4-22-10
Wassily Kandinsky
Wassily Kandinsky was a Russian-born artist, whose contributions to the world of modern art are innumerable. On an artistic level, Kandinsky's maturation process from representational art to abstract art is fascinating. From his earliest work, with an impressionistic flair, to his later work, which was pure abstraction, Kandinsky was an innovator and a genius. He bridged the gap between reality painting of earlier decades and the fantasy pastime of the twentieth century. Wassily Kandinsky was born on December 4, 1866 in Moscow. His father was a successful tea merchant and his mother was a teacher. From early on in his life, Kandinsky acquired a love for travel moving to Florence in 1869 then back to Russia in 1871, this time to the smaller town of Odessa. Shortly after returning to Russia, Kandinsky moved in with his aunt as his parents got divorced and apparently could not care for him any longer. During the early years of Kandinsky's life, he discovered a love for color and shape. Kandinsky cherished the watercolors he received from his aunt, and began painting small pictures as early as age five. He attended high school and took a few art and music classes in addition to the regular curriculum. The cello and piano fascinated Kandinsky, and he became quite an accomplished musician, but like art, he did not see music as a true career. In 1895, Kandinsky attended a French Impressionist exhibition where he saw Monet's Haystacks at Giverny. For the first time, Kandinsky realizes that art can be a career, and he begins to re-evaluate his own artistic potential. Soon thereafter, at the age of thirty, he left Moscow and went to Munich, Germany to study life drawing, sketching and anatomy. Kandinsky's intellectual ability to comprehend the aesthetic and philosophical principles of art far exceeded his actual artistic abilities, much to his frustration. This slowly began to change, as Kandinsky's work moved in a direction that was of much greater abstraction than that which was pioneered by the Impressionists. It was not long before his talent surpassed the constraints of art school and he began exploring his own ideas of painting. The sheer volume of paintings he created at the time is incredible, and the spree lasted until 1906. During this period, his work took a shift from the obviously impressionistic, to more abstract works. He experimented with pointillism and using bold colors. He traveled extensively to such places as Vienna, Venice, Holland, Paris, and Tunisia, picking up new ideas everywhere he went. From 1906 to 1908 Kandinsky went through a period of depression. Finally, one day, in 1908, when he entered his studio, he discovered the beauty of a picture whose colors were highlighted by the rays of the sun. Afterwards he discovered that the picture was one of his own paintings placed upside down and he then understood that a theme could be eliminated to create pure painting. This seemed to end his depression and in 1909, a renewed Kandinsky returned to Munich. This new Kandinsky began working on his "Improvisations", clearly more abstract than his previous works. His works during this period were bold, bright, and splashed across the entire canvas. Shapes were rounded and indistinct. In 1910, Kandinsky produced his first completely non-figurative, abstract painting using the watercolor media, called First Abstract Watercolour. He produced it in the year in which he was writing his theoretical justification for abstract art, "Concerning the Spiritual in Art", which examined the psychological effects of color and made comparisons between painting and music. His first abstract picture, therefore, has closer links with Kandinsky's later work and is very different from anything else done at the same time. He rarely signed his watercolors, but he signed this one, as he was clearly pleased with the result. In 1911, along with Franz...
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