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Definition: Kandinsky, Wassily from Philip's Encyclopedia

Russian painter and theorist. His experiments with abstraction were revolutionary. His early abstract paintings, including the many numbered Compositions, express great lyricism. From 1911 he was an active member of the Blaue Reiter. His writings, especially Concerning the Spiritual in Art (1914), show the influence of Oriental art philosophy. After World War 1, his work became more controlled. White Line (1920) and In the Black Circle (1921) show the beginnings of a refinement of geometrical form that developed during his years at the Bauhaus (1922-33).


Summary Article: Wassily Kandinsky (1866–1944)
from Contemporary World Issues: Global Refugee Crisis: A Reference Handbook, Second Edition

One of the founding fathers of abstract painting, Wassily Kandinsky was born in Moscow, the son of a tea merchant. Kandinsky was drawn to the artistic and the creative when he was young, writing poetry, drawing, and playing the piano and the cello. However, as a young man Kandinsky studied law, economics, and ethnography at the University of Moscow, eventually accepting a position on the university's law faculty in 1893. It was not until 1896, when he was 30 years old, that he decided to become an artist. He was greatly influenced by the French Impressionist painters, especially Claude Monet, appreciating that the subject of the painting played an inferior role to the colors used. His earliest paintings, which were based on folk art, demonstrate this fascination with color rather than form, and even as his work became more complex, the focus remained with color. In 1910, Kandinsky produced his first abstract watercolor, in which all aspects of subject representation have disappeared, and continued perfecting his art over the following years. During the Russian Revolution, Kandinsky held important posts at the Commissariat of Popular Culture and at the Academy in Moscow, later receiving a professorial appointment at the University of Moscow. However, near the end of 1921, the Soviet attitude toward art changed, and to continue his work, Kandinsky had to leave Russia. He became a German citizen in 1928, holding major exhibitions in Berlin and Paris. Because of Nazi persecution Kandinsky emigrated to France in 1934 and continued working even during the period of German occupation until his death.

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