Wassily Kandinsky was born in Moscow, Russia on December 16, 1866. He grew up in the Russian city of Odessa where he learned to play the piano and cello as a young child. He also loved to draw and paint. Later in his life, Kandinsky remarked how his love of music had a huge influence on how and what he painted. But before he became a world famous artist, Wassily Kandinsky took a detour.
When he grew up, he decided to study law at the University of Moscow. He graduated and became a professor. But at the age of 30, Kandinsky decided he wanted to become an artist. He was always interested in art, colors and music. It was his love of these 3 things that drew him to become an artist.
So, at the age of 30, he moved to Munich, Germany to study art. Early on, his artwork was realistic. As time went along, he became influenced by Claude Monet, an Impressionist painter, as well as, music composers. His work went from realistic to a more impressionist style to completely abstract paintings. This makes sense as his work became more focused on colors.
About 1909, Kandinsky began to think that painting did not need a particular subject, but that shapes and colors alone could be art. This style became what we know today as abstract art. Wassily Kandinsky is one of the founding fathers of Abstract Art.
Kandinsky was especially interested in color. Beginning in his earlier, more realistic paintings, Kandinsky used color to show emotion rather than to make objects look real. As he grew as an artist, Kandinsky became more concerned with the power of color in describing what he was feeling. He wanted to use color to make his viewers feel emotion, too.
Slowly over time, Kandinsky became more abstract. He began to paint objects as patches of color instead of painting perfect details such as facial features or individual leaves on trees. He liked the abstract more than the realistic. As he grew as an artist, his figures became less realistic until the viewer could no longer identify known objects in his paintings.
Kandinsky felt that he could express feelings and music through colors and shapes in his paintings. For example, he thought that green had the sound of a violin and that certain colors placed together could harmonize like chords on a piano. The shapes he was most interested in were the circle, triangle and the square. He thought the triangle would cause aggressive feelings, the square calm feelings and the circle
spiritual feelings. Kandinsky was trying to create the same effect on a viewer of his painting as a beautiful piece of music has on a listener.
Wassily Kandinsky had a condition known as synesthesia. Synesthesia is a condition in which one sense (for example, hearing) is simultaneously perceived as if by one or more additional senses such as sight. Another form of synesthesia joins objects such as letters, shapes, numbers or people's names with a sensory perception such as smell, color or flavor. When you understand this, you will understand Kandinsky's work. For Kandinsky, everytime he heard music colors appeared before him. He saw the color yellow every time he heard a trumpet. Or he saw light blue when he heard a
flute. In the video below, you will see what a person who hears sounds as colors actually sees when they hear music (you will really understand it around the 2:55 mark!!)
Kandinsky loved music. He was trying to create the same effect on a viewer of his paintings as a beautiful piece of music has on a listener. He wanted the viewer of his art to feel the music that filled his paintings. He did this through the colors used andthe placement of the splashes of color throughout his compositions.
Kandinsky had a profound impact on the world of art.
Kandinsky died at the age of 77 in 1944.