top of page

Wassily Kandinsky was born on December 16th, 1866.

Wassily Kandinsky was born on December 16th, 1866, in Moscow, in a well-to-do family of a businessman in a good cultural environment. In 1871 the family moved to Odessa where his father ran his tea factory. There, alongside with attending a classical gymnasium (grammar school), the boy learned to play the piano and the cello and took to drawing with a coach. "I remember that drawing and a little bit later painting lifted me out of the reality", he wrote later. In Kandinsky's works of his childhood period, we can find rather specific color combinations, which he explained by the fact that "each color lives by its mysterious life". However, Wassily's parents saw him in the future as a lawyer. In the year of 1886, he went to Moscow and entered Law Faculty of Moscow University. Graduating with honors, six years later Wassily married his cousin, Anna Chimyakina. In 1893 he became Docent (Associate Professor) of Law Faculty and continued teaching. In 1896 the famous in Derpt University in Tartu, where at that time the process of russification was taking place, a thirty-year-old Kandinsky was appointed Professor to the Department of Law, but at this particular time he decided to give up a successful career to devote himself completely to painting. Later on Kandinsky recollected two events, which had affected this decision: his visiting an exhibition of the French impressionists in Moscow in 1895 and an emotional shock he experienced from K. Monet's, "Haystacks", and an impression of Rihard Wagner's "Lohengrin" at the Bolshoi Theatre.


In 1896 he left for Munich, at that time considered to be one of the centers of the European art and entered Anton Azbe's (Yugoslavian artist) prestigious private painting school, where he received the first skills in image composition, in work with line and form. However, rather soon the school ceased to satisfy his needs. Later the artist would write, "Quite often I yielded to a temptation to play truant and to go with a painter's case to Shvabing, to Englishen-Garten, or to the parks on the Isar". In 1900 after a failure of the previous year, Kandinsky entered the Munich Academy of Arts, and studied under Franz Stuck, "German graphic artist Number One". The master is happy with his student but considered his palette too bright. Meeting the Master's requirements, for the whole year Kandinsky drew exclusively in black-and-white spectrum, "studying the form as that". During that period Kandinsky got acquainted with a young artist, Gabriela Munter, and in 1903 he divorced his wife, Anna Chimyakina. The following five years he with Gabriela travelled across Europe, being engaged in painting and participating in exhibitions. Having returned to Bavaria, they settled down in a small town of Murnau at the bottom of the Alps. It was the beginning of the stage of intensive and fruitful search. The works of those years were basically landscapes, based on color discords.


When the World War began, Kandinsky was compelled to leave Germany. On August, 3rd, 1914 he and Gabriela moved to Switzerland where Kandinsky started to work on the book about "point and line". By November of the same year they had parted. Gabriela came back to Munich, and Kandinsky went to Moscow. In the autumn of 1916 Kandinsky got acquainted with Nina Andreevskaya, the daughter of the Russian General, and he married her in February, 1917. During these crisis years of revolution Kandinsky alternated among half-abstract idiom, Impressionist landscapes and romantic fantasies. In his abstract pictures geometrization of separate elements became stronger, the reason for that is, first, the proper process of simplification, and, secondly - the Avant-Garde artistic atmosphere of Moscow of that time.


After returning to Germany, Kandinsky accepts an invitation of Walter Gropius, the founder of the well-known Bauhaus (the Higher school of construction and art designing) and he and Nina moved to Weimar where Kandinsky headed a fresco workshop. He again taught and developed the ideas. They dealt, first, with the deep analytical studying of separate elements of a picture, which resulted into "Point and Line to Plane" in 1926. Kandinsky also worked much and experimented with color, applying his analytical foundation and the conclusions in his teaching. Kandinsky's works again underwent changes: individual geometrical elements increasingly entered the foreground, his palette was sated with cold color harmonies which, at times, are perceived as a dissonance, the circle is used differently, as a sensual symbol of perfect form. "Composition VIII", 1923 is the main work of the Weimar period. Alongside with conceptual works, at this time he created Small Worlds rich in fantasy for Propilei Publishing House


The Parisian artistic environment turned to be reserved to Kandinsky's presence. The reasons for that were his isolation from foreign colleagues and absence of recognition of abstract painting in general. As a result of this the artist lived and worked lonely, being limited to socialize only with his old friends. At this time the last transformation of his painting system happened. Now Kandinsky did not use a combination of primary colours but worked with soft, refined, subtle nuances of colour. Simultaneously, it supplemented and complicated the repertoir of forms: on the foreground there appear biomorphic elements, which feel at ease in the space of a picture as if floating all over the surface of a canvas. Kandinsky's pictures of this period are far from the feeling of "cold romanticism", in them life seethes and boils (see pictures "Sky Blue", 1940, "Complex-Simple", 1939, "Colourful Ensemble", 1938 etc.). The artist named this period of his creativity to be "really a picturesque fairy tale". During the war-time period because of the shortage of materials the formats of his pictures become ever less, up to that moment when the artist was compelled to be content with gouache painting on cardboards of a small format. And again he confronted with aversion of the public and colleagues. And again he developed and improved the basics of his theory: "Abstract art places a new world, which on the surface has nothing to do with "reality," next to the "real" world. Deeper down, it is subject to the common laws of the "cosmic world." And so a "new world of art" is juxtaposed to the "world of nature." This "world of art" is just as real, just as concrete. For this reason I prefer to call so-called "abstract art" "concrete art.".

Source: Wassily

11 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page