When you hear the name, Leonardo da Vinci, you immediately visualize "The Last Super" or "Mona Lisa", or with Michelangelo Buonarroti, you may think about "David" and his work in the Sistine Chapel, in addition to Claude Monet's impressionism, and Wyland's seascapes that are displayed all over the world on the sides of buildings and walls. These are only a few out of many artists that have brought to life the beauty of landscapes, animals, people, and shapes. What strikes their interest? Where are they from? In addition, what makes their work so interesting to the ordinary eye? There are many stories that could be told, but this one is of a Russian artist, the first to create a fully abstract painting.
Wassily Kandinsky was a Russian-born artist, whose contributions to the world of modern art are innumerable. On an artistic level, Kandinsky's maturation process from representational art to abstract art is fascinating. From his earliest work, with an impressionistic flair, to his later work, which was pure abstraction, Kandinsky was an innovator and a genius. He bridged the gap between reality painting of earlier decades and the fantasy escapism of the twentieth century.
Wassily Kandinsky (Vasily Vasilyevich Kandinsky) was born on December 4, 1866 in Moscow. His father was a successful tea merchant and his mother was a teacher. From early on in his life, Kandinsky acquired a love for travel moving to Florence in 1869 then back to Russia in 1871, this time to the smaller town of Odessa (a.k.a. "The Pearl of the Black Sea"). Shortly after returning to Russia, Kandinsiky moved in with his aunt as his parents got divorced and apparently could not care for him any longer. During the early years of Kandinsky's life, he discovered a love for color and shape. Kandinsky cherished the watercolors he received from his aunt, and began painting small pictures as early as age five. He attended high school and took a few art and music classes in addition to the regular curriculum. The cello and piano fascinated Kandinsky, and he became quite an accomplished musician, but like art, he 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, and after passing his examinations, he took a position to lecture at the Moscow Faculty of Law. He enjoyed success not only as a teacher but also wrote extensively on spirituality, a subject that remained of great interest and ultimately exerted substantial influence in his work.
In 1895, Kandinsky attended a French Impressionist exhibition where he saw Monet's Haystacks at Giverny'. He stated, "
it was from the catalog I learned this was a haystack. I was upset I had not recognized it. I also thought the painter had no right to paint in such an imprecise fashion. Dimly I was aware too that the object did not appear in the picture." For the first time, Kandinsky realizes that art can be a career, and he begins to re-evaluate his own artistic potential. Soon thereafter, at the age of thirty, he left Moscow and went to Munich, Germany to study life drawing, sketching and anatomy, regarded then as basic for an artistic education. Kandinsky's intellectual ability to comprehend the aesthetic and philosophical principles of art far exceeded his actual artistic abilities, much to his frustration. This slowly began to change, as Kandinsky's work moved in a direction that was of much greater abstraction than that which was pioneered by the Impressionists. It was not long before his talent surpassed the constraints of art school and he began exploring his own ideas of painting, "I applied streaks and blobs of colors onto the canvas with a palette knife and I made them sing with all the intensity I could", he stated.
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...
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