Artist biographies

Wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) originally trained as a lawyer and worked in Moscow. In 1896, at the age of 30, he abandoned his career and moved to Munich to become an artist. There he studied with Anton Ažbe and Franz von Stuck. Kandinsky was one of the founders of the Phalanx group of artists; in 1901 he became director of the Phalanx-Malschule. One of his students, Gabriele Münter, became his lifetime companion. Kandinsky was initially much impressed by Monet and Impressionism. Later his forceful, expressive use of colour betrayed the influence of the Fauves, with whom he exhibited work at the 1905 Salon d’Automne in Paris. From 1906 to 1908 Kandinsky and Münter travelled through Europe, eventually settling in the village of Murnau, to the south of Munich. There they spent some time painting with Alexej von Jawlensky and Marianne von Werefkin. In subsequent years Kandinsky’s colour planes became increasingly autonomous and his work rapidly evolved in an abstract direction.

In 1909 Kandinsky and Jawlensky founded the Neue Künstlerverein of Munich. Two years later the group disintegrated and Kandinsky, Jawlensky and Münter joined forces with Franz Marc and August Macke to establish the group Der Blaue Reiter. In 1912 Kandinsky expounded his theories on the psychological effects of colours and sounds on the human soul. By this time Kandinsky’s work had become entirely abstract and his paintings bore titles such as ‘improvisation’ and ‘composition’.

When the First World War broke out, Kandinsky returned to Moscow where, after the Revolution of 1917, he played a leading role in new cultural policy. His programme of art teaching at INKhUK (the Institute of Artistic Culture), however, met with hostility from the Soviet authorities. In 1922 Kandinsky accepted a post as Professor at the Bauhaus in Weimar. In 1933 he left for Paris, taking French nationality. He spent the last years of his life in Neuilly-sur-Seine, a suburb of Paris.

Wassily Kandinsky, Lipnitzki, Getty Images.jpg

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