Wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky was born in 1866 in Moscow, Russia and is dubbed one of the first creators of modern abstraction in painting (McMullen, 2021). He began his early adult life first pursuing law but at the age of thirty he ended his law studies in pursuit of art in Munich, two years later he then enrolled into the Royal Academy (Rebay, 1947). Kandinsky was very much so in pursuit of the non-representational creation in his work instead of painting figuratively Kandinsky wanted to explore the inner working of his mind and emotions (Rebay, 1947).

Composition VIII, 1923 by Wassily Kandinsky

Kandinsky would often draw comparisons between the creativity of painters and artists and that of musicians and would go on to formalise these ideas, assigning colour and form to sound and music. For example when exploring ‘points’ Kandinsky (1947) compares the points used in his paintings to musical notes on a score sheet. Looking closely at Composition VIII we can also almost see score sheets themselves and imagine waves of sounds in the rounded shapes and different colours.

Farbstudie Quadrate, 1913 by Wassily Kandinsky

As well as more complex abstract paintings Kandinsky also produced colour studies using water colours and other materials (Museum of Modern Art, 2021). Farbstudie Quadrate is one such example, here we can see Kandinsky exploring relationships between colours with some colour circles blurring and seeping into one another and others remaining quite rigid. Some feel cool and cold (blues) and others warm and inviting (yellows). Equally I think you can feel the warmth and coolness of Kandinsky’s colour use in composition VIII, the burning deep red circle in the top left corner, the crisp triangular mountain beside it, and the cooler blue small circles towards the bottom.


McMullen, R. 2021, Wassily Kandinsky, viewed on 19/07/2021,[https://www.britannica.com/biography/Wassily-Kandinsky]

Musem of Modern Art, 2021, Farbstudie Quadrate mit Konzentrischen Ringen ( Color Study – Squares with concentric rings) viewed on 20/02/2021 [https://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2012/inventingabstraction/?work=12

Rebay, H. 1947, Preface, In: Kandinsky, W. Point and Line to Plane, Bloomfield Hills Michigan: Crankbrook Press, viewed on 20/02/2021, [https://www.wassilykandinsky.net/book-pointlinetoplane.html]

Kandinsky, W. 1947, Point and Line to Plane, Bloomfield Hills Michigan: Crankbrook Press, viewed on 20/02/2021, [https://www.wassilykandinsky.net/book-pointlinetoplane.html]

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