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Wassily Kandinsky was born in Russia in 1866. At school he learned to play the piano
and cello and later claimed that colours were like the notes on a keyboard and that
he could hear music when he saw colours. It may surprise some that he didn’t formally
study art until he was 30.
His parents had ambitions for him to be a lawyer and he studied law at Moscow University.
Graduating with honours, he became a professor at the same law department. Above,Project for yellow, red, blue, Wassily Kandinsky
Around the age of 30 he decided to
give up this successful career and take up painting full time. In 1896 he went to
Munich to study art at the private painting school of Yugoslavian artist Anton Azbe.
In 1900 he changed teachers and studied under Franz Stuck at the Munich Academy of
He claims his decision to become an artist had been inspired and influenced by a
visit to a French Impressionist exhibition in Moscow in 1895.
Transverse Line -Wassily
Kandinsky 1927 Kandinsky had married his cousin Anna Chimyakina in 1892, but in Munich
he met a fellow artist, Gabriela Munter, leading him to divorce Anna in 1903.
This relationship lasted 11 years when he and Gabriela parted. He later married Nina
Andreevskaya, the daughter of a Russian General, in 1917.
During these turbulent years for his personal life he travelled Europe painting and
experimenting with different styles from impressionism to romantic fantasies and
abstracts. These Munich years were his formative years as a painter and he founded
or co founded several art movements. In 1901 he started Phalanx an art group in Munich
and in 1909, co founded the New Group of Artists, of which he became President. Along
with his friend Frantsem Mark he founded an influential group called Blue Rider
Below, The Blue Rider - Wassily Kandinsky
Always a theorist, Kandinsky’s writing in The Blue Rider Almanac and his treatise
On the Spiritual in Art, defend and promote the abstract in art. He claimed that
using colour was a valid art form in itself and that it did not need to be used to
define recognisable forms and objects.
Kandinsky’s early work featured landscapes and later on he moved more and more into
abstraction, with figures not clearly defined but represented with a single colour.
He fled to Switzerland at the outbreak of the first world war where he and Gabriella
parted, he quickly returned to Russia in late 1914.
Returning to Germany in 1922 Kandinsky started teaching at The Bauhaus in Weimar.
He taught a basic design class as well as workshops exploring colour theory and the
psychological aspects of colour and form. The Bauhaus saw a very productive period
for Kandinsky, geometric shapes and strong colours were strong features of his teaching
and his art. He was a contemporary of Paul Klee.
After the Bauhaus was closed by the Nazis in 1933 he moved to and settled in Paris.
He became a French citizen. He carried on painting and produced some of his best
work in Paris in his apartment studio. He carried on experimenting and added sand
to his paint to give a different texture. However he was isolated in Paris where
abstract painting was out of favour. Cubism and impressionism were the artworld’s
dominant “-isms” of the time.
He died in 1944.
Each generation rediscovers this great artist and innovator and Wassily Kandinsky
paintings are amongst the best selling prints, posters and canvases gracing living
rooms, bedrooms and offices the world over. We hope you’ve enjoyed our facts about
Wassily Kandinsky and we’ve inspired you to own some Wassily Kandinsky art for yourself.
Top picture,Squares with Concentric Circles, Wassily Kandinsky
Russian Born in 1866 died in France in 1944
Taught at the Bauhaus school of Art and Design in Germany
Studied music and he compared musical notes to colours in his own art and the art
Was concerned with spirituality and psychology in art
Early work featured landscapes but best known for his later abstract paintings featuring
geometric shapes with bright colours
Qualified lawyer who was a successful law professor until he gave it up to study
art at the age of 30
Married twice with one long relationship in between
He claims his 1913 painting Composition VII, was his most complex work
Some of his first three Composition series of paintings were first confiscated from
the Bauhaus by the Nazis, then later destroyed. The only remaining record are some
b/w photographs taken by Gabriele Munter.