Kandinsky Essay, Research Paper
The Early Years Of Kandinsky’s Life
Wassily Kandinsky was born on December 4, 1866 in Moscow. His father was a successful tea merchant named
Vasily Silestrovich, and his mother was a teacher named Lydia Kandinskaia. From early on in his life, Kandinsky acquired a love for travel. His parents to Florence in 1869 where the young Kandinsky attended Nursery School. When his father’s health began deteriorating in 1871, Wassily and his parents moved back to Russia, this time to the smaller town of Odessa. Shortly after returning to Russia, his parents divorced.
During the early years of Kandinsky’s life, he discovered a love a color and shape. Kandinsky cherished the watercolors he received from his aunt, and began painting small pictures as early as age five. His parents seem to have been the type of people who would have supported their son’s artistic ambitions had he actually had them, but for Kandinsky, painting was only a hobby and not a career.
After Kandinsky’s parents divorced, Kandinsky lived with his aunt, Elizaveta Tikheeva. He attended high school and took a few art and music classes in addition to the regular curriculum. The Cello fascinated Kandinsky, and he became quite a good cellist, but like art, Kandinsky did not see music as a true career.
Instead, Kandinsky followed a more practical ambition, and studied law and economics at the University of Moscow beginning in 1886. Kandinsky calmly suppressed his artistic yearnings throughout his University years, because his highly intellectual mind would not allow him to act irrationally. He finished University in 1892, after which he accepted a university assistantship. A few months later, he marries his distant cousin, Ania Shemiakina. At this point in his life, it seemed that Kandinsky should have settled into a middle class, bourgeoise lifestlye, with his academic career, his sturdy home, and his obedient wife.
Far from accepting accepting the secure life Kandinsky created for himself, Wassily abruptly makes a dramatic shift in his life. Upon seeing an exhibit of French paintings in Moscow, Kandinsky is impressed by Monet’s famous “Haystacks”, a piece of impressionistic genius. For the first time, Kandinsky realizes that art can be a career, and he begins to re-evaluate his own artistic potential.
In 1896, Kandinsky moved to Munich, Germany, leaving his bride behind in Russia. At this point in his life, when he was already thirty years old, it was crystal clear to Kandinsky that he wanted to dedicate his life to art. Munich was a hotbed of artistic activity in Europe, and Wassily took full advantage of the art education offered there by enrolling in art school. Kandinsky’s intellectual abilitiy to comprehend the aesthetic and philosophical principles of art far exceeded his actual artistic abilities, much to his frustration. This slowly began to change, however, as Kandinsky experimented with artistic styles and grew to develop his own distinct artistic form.
Kandinsky studied at the Azbe school in Munich and the Munich Academy where he met other painters such as Stuck, Jawlensky and Werefkin. He created the Phalanx Group, a loosely organized group of artists who were on the cusp of modernity in Munich. Included were Werefkin and Jawlensky. This marked the beginning of a period of exhaustive production by Kandinsky. The sheer volume of paintings he created at the time is incredible, and the spree lasted until 1906. During this period, his work took a shift from the obviously impressionistic “The Blue Rider” to more abstract works. He experimented with pointillism and using bold colors. He travelled extensively to such places as Vienna, Venice, Holland, Paris, and Tunisia, picking up new ideas everywhere he went. Also during this time, Kandinsky struck up a casual relationship with one of his art students, Gabriele Muenter, with whom he had a relationship with until 1916.
In 1909, a renewed Kandinsky returned to Munich after three years of travel. From 1906 to 1908 Kandinsky went through a period of depression, but this ended upon his return to Munich. This new Kandinsky began working on his “Improvisations”, clearly more abstract than his previous works. Kandinsky’s works during this period were bold and bright and splashed across the entire canvas. Shapes were rounded and indistinct. In 1911, Kandinsky began “compositions” a group of paintings that show a progression in Kandinsky’s artistic ability. Black lines define shapes and colors are no longer fuzzy and blended.
In 1911, Kandinsky made mojor changes in both his artistic and personal life. He divorced Ania, although the two really had not been together since Kandinsky moved to Munich. He also formed “The Blaue Reiter” artist group, probably the most famous group to which Kandinsky belonged. All of the modernist biggies were in this group such as Klee and Marc.
In 1914, with the outbreak of World War one, the Russian-born Kandinsky realized that he was an enemy in Munich, and decided to return to Moscow. While in Munich, Kandinsky lived through the October Revolution in 1917 and ensuing changes that occured afterwards. Kandinsky worked for the Soviet government and their artistic campaigns. His work included collecting contemporary art using state funds to be placed in in “museums of artistic culture”. In 1917, Kandinsky also married Nina Andeevskaya, a beautiful Russian woman who finally brought him the happiness and peace that had been previously lacking in his life.
The Later Years Of Kandinsky’s Life
In 1921, After the war, Kandinsky returned to Germany as a totally different artist. His work had undergone so many drastic changes, that no one in Munich even recognized the new pieces as his. He began to use the canvas not as something to paint over, but as part of the painting. Shapes became more distinct, and sharp edges prevailed. The colors were bold as always, but focused on rich tones.
Kandinsky accepted a post at the Bauhaus in Germany, a cutting-edge art school in Weimar that is still seen today as the premier art school of the time. His experiments with Abstraction produced fantstic work that hangs on the walls of many homes today such as “Yellow-Red-Blue” and “Several Circles”. Triangles and perfect circles were the hallmarks of his works, and the use of color to evoke different moods was very important as well.
In 1928, Kandinsky became a German citizen. He seemed to finally have it all, the way he wanted it: a beautiful and inspirational wife, a good job among friends doing something that he enjoyed, living as a citizen in the country he loved, and most importantly, having finally found his own personal artisitic style. He lived happily in Germany for the next few years, enjoying his “perfect” life, but that soon came to an end.
In 1933 when Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party came to power, the doors of the Bauhaus slammed shut. The artists were fearful of their future, and upon some encouraging, decided to flee the country. Kandinsky fled to Paris, a city he had previously visited and fallen in love with. Kandinsky’s paintings, however, did not escape Hitler’s grasp. Many were confiscated and destroyed. Half of the “Improvisations” were burned in a bonfire of “degenerate art”. The Nazis thought that modernist art and abstraction were un-German and subversive since it strayed so far from the norm of German traditional painting.
Kandinsky becomes a French citizen in 1938 and remained in Paris throughout the war. During these years in Paris, Kandinsky went through yet another artistic change. His painting became more stylized, and almost cartoon-like in nature. Colors such as pink and sea-green were prevalent, and Kandinsky filled the canvas with as much color as possible, leaving almost none of the canvas white.
Towards Kandinsky’s very last years, much of his work was done in earth tones of gray and brown, a total change from the bright bold colors that had always been his trademark. His work seems almost Africa-inspired, which he possibly got from the large number of Africans living in France at the time.
Kandinsky passed from this world on December 13, 1944, at the age of 78. He had lived a long, full life, but never got to see the end of the war. It was probably better that he did not, since he never found out about the fate of his confiscated paintings before he died, and so he died thinking that they were being stored somewhere until after the war.