Wassily Kandinsky Framed Art

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Portrait of Wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky

(December 16, 1866 - December 13, 1944)

Kandinsky was a Russian-born painter and art theorist. One of the most important 20th-century artists, alongside Picasso and Matisse, he is credited with painting the first abstract works in the history of modern art.

Kandinsky was born in Moscow but spent his childhood in Odessa. He enrolled at the University of Moscow and chose law and economics. Although quite successful in his profession, he started painting studies (life-drawing, sketching and anatomy) at the age of 30. He settled in Munich but went back to Moscow in 1918 after the Russian Revolution. Being in conflict with official theories on art, he returned to Germany in 1921. There he was a teacher at the Bauhaus from 1922 until it was closed by the Nazis in 1933. At that time he moved to France. He lived the rest of his life there, becoming a French citizen in 1939. He died at Neuilly-sur-Seine in 1944.

In addition to painting Kandinsky developed his voice as an art theorist. He helped to found the Munich New Artists' Association in and became its president in 1909. The group was unable to integrate the more radical approach of those like Kandinsky with more conventional ideas of art and the group dissolved in late 1911. Kandinsky the moved to form a new group The Blue Rider (Der Blaue Reiter with like minded artists such as Franz Marc. The group released an almanac, also called The Blue Rider and held two exhibits. More of each were planned, but the outbreak of World War I in 1914 ended these plans and sent Kandinsky home to Russia via Switzerland and Sweden.

Kandinsky's writing in The Blue Rider Almanac and the treatise On the Spiritual In Art, which was released at almost the same time, served as both a defense and promotion of abstract art, as well as an appraisal that all forms of art were equally capable of reaching a level of spirituality. He believed that color could be used in a painting as something autonomous and apart from a visual discription of an object or other form.

Along with Piet Mondriaan and Kazimir Malevich, Kandinsky is considered a pioneer in abstract art, undoubtedly the most famous. He was a synaesthete who could, quite literally, hear colors. This effect of color was a major influence on his art, and he even named some of his paintings "improvisations" and "compositions" as if they were works of music and not painting. Works by Kandinsky have been recently sold for as much as US$25 million. Probably the largest collection of his paintings may be seen in the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.

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