Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky
Russian artist
December 16, 1866 - December 13, 1944

He was a Russian-born painter, born on December 16th in 1866, and his work in abstract art made him the first painter to devote himself to solely abstract themes in his paintings. This influential man, Wassily Kandinsky, did not start his life as an artist until he was 30 years old, and was determined to make his art as he saw it should be - not conforming to the generally accepted styles. He was a brilliant lawyer and economist and the University of Dorpat offered him a professorship, which he refused in order to train as an artist.

He had been born in Moscow, raised in Odessa, studied in Moscow and found his way to Munich, Germany where he joined a private art school owned by Anton Ažbe in 1896. Initially he had been refused admittance, but he studied on his own for one year, and was accepted thereafter. With his talent and Anton Ažbe’s training he was able to enroll at the Academy of Fine Arts. He left Munich when World War I started in 1914, choosing to return to Moscow. As he found Moscow’s art theories for modern painting sadly lacking, he eventually moved back to Germany, taking a position there at the Bauhaus School of Art and Architecture for almost 11 years - from 1922 until 1933 - when the German Nazis closed it down. Kandinsky chose France as his next destination, taking residency there in 1933, and later, a citizenship, in 1939. He made his most well-known paintings while living there even though abstract art at that time in France was still not recognized as an true art style. He stayed in France for the rest of his life, dying in 1944 just days before his 88th birthday, in the western suburbs of Paris called Neuilly-sur-Seine.

Kandinsky’s early paintings were influenced by Symbolists and Fauvists, as seen in Sunday, Old Russia (1904) and Riding Couple (1907). His works began to gather notice in the beginning of the 20th century, with his Blue Rider painting in 1903. It was the start of Kandinsky’s move towards totally abstract works, although it would take him years to achieve that point. During the years 1908 and 1909 he worked on a series called Improvisations and Blue Mountain, which brought him closer to the development of abstract art through colors as the purpose of the painting, rather than the subject matter. He began a series of pure abstract artworks, titled Composition, with Composition VII being, according to Kandinsky, his most complex work. Composition IX (1936) and Composition X (1939) were his last and most prominent pieces that he’d completed, after mainly teaching art for many years.

There are few artists who felt deeply enough about their art to write books and theories, as Kandinsky was inspired to do. His two books, Concerning the Spiritual In Art (1910) and Point and Line to Plane (1926), expressed his theories on how art should be made to a person feel and impress deeply on their senses. Kandinsky had been leader of the Blue Rider Group which included August Macke and Franz Marc. He wrote a treatise titled "On the Spiritual In Art" and expanded on his theories in its journal for two years, until the outbreak of WWI caused his migration back to Russia. His treatise received international attention and acclaim when it was translated into English and published by Michael Sadleir in 1914. Wassily Kandinsky’s contribution to art through his perseverance in creating his abstract works and his continued teaching of abstract design during the 20s and 30s helped to make abstract art a successful movement in the 20th century.

37.5 × 59.12 inches
70.2 × 78.1 cm
44.4 × 32.7 cm
140 × 140 cm