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Kandinsky, Wassily [Russian, 1866-1944] 

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Kandinsky, Wassily [Russian, 1866-1944]


[ Biography | 20th Century Artists | Bauhaus Artists | Anthroposophical Artists ]
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“Black is like the silence of the body after death, the close of life.”
— Wassily Kandinsky, 1911

Wassily Kandinsky, Russian in full VASILY VASILYEVICH KANDINSKY (b. Dec. 4 [Dec. 16, New Style], 1866, Moscow, Russia – d. Dec. 13, 1944, Neuilly-sur-Seine, Fr.), Russian-born artist, one of the first creators of pure abstraction in modern painting. After successful avant-garde exhibitions, he founded the influential Munich group Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider; 1911–14) and began completely abstract painting. His forms evolved from fluid and organic to geometric and, finally, to pictographic (e.g., Tempered Élan, 1944).

Kandinsky, himself an accomplished musician, once said “Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the harmonies, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul.” The concept that color and musical harmony are linked has a long history, intriguing scientists such as Sir Isaac Newton. Kandinsky used color in a highly theoretical way associating tone with timbre (the sound's character), hue with pitch, and saturation with the volume of sound. He even claimed that when he saw color he heard music.

The theme of the Apocalypse — inspired by the Theosophical and Anthroposophical writings of Rudolf Steiner — was crucial to Kandinsky's prophetic ambition. In a great early abstract painting, such as the 1913 “Picture With White Border,” there is an apocalyptic sense of both destruction and creation, disintegration and celebration.

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  Kandinsky, Wassily [Russian, 1866-1944]

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