Modern Art - Wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky

Russian painter, 1866 - 1944

The two most important forerunners of Abstract Expressionism were Monet in his late years and Wassily Kandinsky in his early years. Kandinsky is considered to be the first artist to paint purely non-objective compositions. He painted to express emotions alone. No story, no content, no symbols. Kandinsky created combinations of line, color, light, texture, motion and tone and for the first time, art was liberated from a point of reference outside itself.

Wassily Kandinsky drew parallels between painting and music and concentrated on improvization. He once said, "In my youth I experienced two things which placed a stamp on my entire life and which stirred me to the bottom of my soul. They were the French Impressionist Exhibition in Moscow-particularly the "Haystacks" by Claude Monet and a Wagner presentation at the Hof Theatre-"Lohengrin."

Monet's influence on many of the artists of the twentieth century was strong. Monet's zeal to reproduce atmospheric conditions, combined, possibly with his failing eyesight, created canvases that splashed and radiated color. Monet was the first artist to disregard content, particularly in his famous "Haystacks" series, and painted something subtler than subject matter. For Monet, it was the play of light and atmosphere. Wassily Kandinsky painted emotion.

In the painting, Farbstudie Quadrate, done in 1913, Kandinsky had already freed himself from any semblance of conventional design. His colored circles wash across the canvas and vibrate with emotional intensity.