Wassily Kandinsky – Father of the Abstract

Day 223 of Colourisation Project – December 16

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

It is hard to believe that Wassily Kandinsky born this day, 16 December 1866 only started painting at age 30. Kandinsky was one of Russia’s greatest art theorists and most influential painters of the twentieth century. He is credited with painting the world’s first purely abstract works.

In honour of his sheer talent for the abstract and to mark his 148th birthday today, Google has dedicated its Google Doodle to him.  Check it out.

Wassily Kandinsky

Photographer Unknown:  Wassily Kandinsky    Coloured by Loredana Crupi

Born in Moscow in 1866, Kandinsky was a 30 year old professor of law at the University of Dorpat, when he decided to give up his promising career to enrol in  Academy of Fine Arts in Munich.

He attributed his decision to change career paths to having seen Monet’s Haystacks and hearing Richard Wagner’s Lohengrin.  For Kandinsky, colour was the reflection of emotion, and he often likened the process of painting to composing music. In his own words…”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.”

In 1912 Kandinsky published his book Concerning the Spiritual in Art, in which he discusses his theories on colour and its ability to “provoke a rich, sensory experience within the soul of the viewer.”

At home in Munich, he taught at the Bauhaus school of art and architecture from 1922 until the Nazis confiscated fifty seven of his paintings and forced its closure in 1933.  They were later put on show in the State-sponsored exhibit “Degenerate Art” in 1937 along with works by Paul Klee and others, before being destroyed  by the Nazis in the grandest gesture of travesty.

Kandinsky moved to France, where he lived out the rest of his life and where he produced some of his most acclaimed work.

In today’s art market, his work attracts bids in the tens of millions. His 1909 painting Study for Improvisation 8 sold for $23 million at Christie’s in 2012.

Kandinsky died at Neuilly-sur-Seine in 1944 at the age of 77, setting the stage for much of the expressive modern art produced in the twentieth century.

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“Of all the arts, abstract painting is the most difficult. It demands that you know how to draw well, that you have a heightened sensitivity for composition and for colors, and that you be a true poet. This last is essential.”  –  Wassily Kandinsky

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