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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Kandinsky, Wassily


Yellow-Red-Blue
1925
oil on canvas
127 x 200 cm
Musee National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France

"I really believe that I am the first and only artist to throw not just the 'subject' out of my paintings, but every 'object' as well.""Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the harmonies, and 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." (Kandinsky)

The primary colors on the Yellow-Red-Blue painting feature squares, circles and triangles and there are abstract shapes mixed in with these. There are also straight and curved black lines that go through the colors and shapes. This simple visual identification of forms and the main coloured masses present on the canvas is only a first approach to the inner reality of the work, whose appreciation necessitates deeper observation - not only of forms and colours involved in the painting but their relationship, their absolute and relative positions on the canvas and their harmony.

Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) was an influential Russian painter and art theorist. He is credited with painting the first purely-abstract works. Born in Moscow, He spent his childhood in Odessa. He enrolled at the University of Moscow, studying law and economics. Successful in his profession - he was offered a professorship (chair of Roman Law) at the University of Dorpat - he began painting studies (life-drawing, sketching and anatomy) at the age of 30.

He named works after musical terms. He saw color when he listened to music, and believed color could visually express music’s timber, pitch and volume. At age 30, his artistic career began when he left a legal career to pursue artistic studies after seeing Monet’s “Haystacks.” Passionately compelled to create, he believed that the purity of this desire would communicate itself to viewers of his work. He was fascinated by music's emotional power. Because music expresses itself through sound and time, it allows the listener a freedom of imagination, interpretation, and emotional response that is not based on the literal or the descriptive, but rather on the abstract quality that painting, still dependent on representing the visible world, could not provide. Music can respond and appeal directly to the artist's "internal element" and express spiritual values, thus for him it is a more advanced art. In his writings he emphasizes this superiority in advancing toward what he calls the epoch of the great spiritual.

He was never solely a painter, but a theoretician, and organizer at the same time. He expressed his views on art and artistic activity in his numerous writings. In the 1920-30s his name became world famous. He was proclaimed the theoretician and leading figure of abstract painting. In addition to teaching courses, he became actively involved in delivering lectures; his exhibitions took place almost yearly in Europe and America. In 1921, he was invited to go to Germany to attend the Bauhaus of Weimar by its founder, architect Walter Gropius. Kandinsky taught the basic design class for beginners and the course on advanced theory at the Bauhaus; he also conducted painting classes and a workshop in which he augmented his color theory with new elements of form psychology. In 1933, the Nazis having come to power in Germany and closed down the Bauhaus, he took refuge in France where he spent the last eleven years of his life. In 1939 he and his wife became French citizens. He continued painting almost until his death. He died on December 13, 1944 in Neuilly-sur-Seine at the age of 78.

“The circle is the synthesis of the greatest oppositions. It combines the concentric and the eccentric in a single form and in equilibrium. Of the three primary forms, it points most clearly to the fourth dimension.” (Kandinsky)