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The various arts attempted

The first half of the twentieth century was the period when a lot of different approaches to art existed simultaneously: Cubism, Fauvism, Futurism, Expressionism, Dada, Surrealism, and host of other movements; a vast number of genuinely concerned individuals throughout the various arts attempted to fix what they perceived as a sick culture. Though there was anger of Dada, formal removal of Cubism, and even the angst of Expressionism, there were still artists who put into their work real spiritual weight. Their goal was to uncover the good that lay inside the bad. And this rather formidable task was to be the life’s work of Wassily Kandinsky.

Wassily Kandinsky was born in 1866 in Moscow though much of his childhood he spent in Ukraine in Odessa. His first education was in economics and law. However, later when he was 30, he took up painting studies, first in private school in Munich and then at the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich. As World War I broke out, Kandinsky returned to Russia but feeling discontent with the artistic atmosphere there, shortly after the war ended, he came again to Germany. Before the World War II the artist had to move to France as the Bauhaus school where he lectured was closed by the Nazis.

The rest of his life Kandinsky spent in France. Wassily Kandinsky saw the breakthrough of Cubism as a chance to distill purer art from the confines of representation. Kandinsky isolated the elements of his craft, which were in painting line, color, gesture, and the relationship of the image to the surface, leaving everything else aside. In this manner, emotional states and their expressions were freed from their reliance on representation, which in Kandinsky’s opinion diluted the authority and power of an individual’s most basic human experience.

Kandinsky came to abstraction via representational painting, and in many of the early abstractions – or what he often called improvisations – elements from observation remain, though in somewhat schematic form. Kandinsky created pictures that were independent of natural subject matter thus becoming one of the foremost explorers of nonobjective painting before the war (see Fig. 1). What is different about these works is the conscious disengagement of color from its traditional role as a descriptive tool in the development of a naturalistic scene.

The story of how Kandinsky first discovered “inherent expressive properties of color” (Kissick, 1993, 395) outside their relation to the real world is interesting. One evening, after the whole day of painting, he was confronted by an image which he found to be extremely and unusually beautiful. This was exactly what he was searching for in his creations of landscapes. Upon closer inspection, he was astonished to learn that the image he so admired was actually one of his earlier paintings, accidentally placed upside down, destroying its original representational scene.

From this moment, he adopted his peculiar approach; color became the subject of almost religious reverence for Kandinsky, as he was increasingly convinced that the art will reach a human soul not through painting pictures of things, but through isolating the purer expressions embodied in color and line. With this conviction as a core principle Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) was founded in 1911 in Munich, taking its name from the paining by Kandinsky.

The members of Der Blaue Reiter movement, and Kandinsky, in particular, believed that colors, lines, and light compose the painting which is free from what its real meaning and context. The Blue Rider (see Fig. 2) is considered to be the most important of Kandinsky’s paintings, which shows a human figure on a horse running in a rocky meadow. The figure blue color contrasts the green background – the queer combination typical of expressionists. The rider’s figure casts a shadow, which may be another figure presented in a painting.

However, it also may be just a shadow of the solitary rider. In this way the artist made the viewers participate in the very process of artwork creation. This technique was later developed by him in his prominent abstract expressionist paintings. (see Fig. 1) Kandinsky is fairly considered to be one of the most outstanding artists of the 20th century, and in 2007 the Russian National Kandinsky Award was founded in the field of Fine Arts.

Work Cited

Nagle, Geraldine. The Arts, World Themes. McGraw-Hill, 1997 Kissick, John, Art. Context and Criticism. WCB Brown & Benchmark, 1993.

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