Wassily Kandinsky – 6 Interesting Facts

Wassily Kandinsky was a Russian painter known for creating the first purely abstract paintings. Born to an upper class multiethnic family with a passion for music, Kandinsky was also an art theorist and teacher. His works appealed to a universal audience by using form and color to represent sound and human emotion. For more about Kandinsky, here are the following facts:

1. Kandinsky was very sensitive to colors and sounds from an early age.

  • His father enrolled him in classes to nurture his affinity for the arts. Kandinsky learned how to play the cello and piano when he was at grammar school.
  • He was also given private drawing lessons, but did not pursue painting until he was 30 years-old.

2. Kandinsky left his successful career to become an artist.

  • He followed his family’s wishes and studied law, economics, and ethnography at university. He graduated with honors and became a professor in law education.
  • Despite his success as an educator, he remained fascinated in art and theory. Inspired by Russian folk art and Impressionist exhibits, he went to art school.

3. Kandinsky’s approach to art was spiritual and philosophical.

  • He took the common appeal of music and applied it to art by using color and totally abstract form. He believed that the former impresses “direct influence on the soul.”
  • Kandinsky wished to convey universal ideas and emotions by using object-free artworks that transcended physical and cultural boundaries. He believed that copying real objects prevented profound expression and “damaged” images.

4. He was a teacher and founder of many avant-garde institutions.

  • He and other artists formed Phalanx, Neue Kunstlervereinigung Munchen (NKVM, or New Artists Association of Munich), and Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider).
  • Kandinsky taught at Phalanx’s art school and planned to put up his own, only to be thwarted by the October Revolution. He then taught at Weimar Bauhaus until it was closed by the Nazis.

5. He is known as the “patron saint of Guggenheim”.

  • Due to Fascist censuring against his art, Kandinsky was featured in the widely attended Degenerate Art Exhibition. The Nazis confiscated 57 of his paintings.
  • However, over 150 of his paintings were collected by Solomon R. Guggenheim and featured in his museum of modern art.

6. Kandinsky’s legacy continues to the present day.

  • Though many of the works he produced in Germany have survived, the same cannot be said for those painted in Russia. At a 2016 Christie’s New York auction, one of his paintings sold for a record $23.32 million, the highest for one of his works.
  • The Kandinsky Prize was created in 2007 to reinforce Russian art’s place internationally and to develop its contemporary movements. Every year, winners are awarded a total of €55,000.

Through his musical and artistic sensibilities, Wassily Kandinsky has undoubtedly inspired several artists and movements. By experimenting with the power and potential of color and form (or lack thereof), he has evoked the heartfelt and spiritual for his audiences all over the world.