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Wassily Kandinsky


Wassily Kandinsky (1866–1944) was one of the main exponents and theorists of the modern art movement. Kandinsky’s revolutionary shift into abstract expression was the result of the gradual maturation of his thinking about art.  His solo exhibition in Helsinki in 1916 aroused wide interest among the younger generation of artists.

Kandinsky was born into a wealthy Moscow family. Initially he studied law and economics, but in 1896 he moved to Munich to study painting with Anton Ažbe and Franz von Stuck. In 1901 he founded the exhibition society Phalanx with its associated art school, where he met his pupil and later companion Gabriele Münter. Between 1903 and 1907 they travelled extensively throughout Europe and Tunisia, living in Paris and Berlin before moving to Munich in 1908.

Kandinsky was one of the founders of the progressive Neue Münchner Künstlervereinigung (New Artists’ Association, Munich) in 1909. Two years later, after a dispute over the inclusion of his almost abstract painting Composition V, he set up Der Blaue Reiter (the ‘Blue Rider’ group) with Franz Marc, Alfred Kubin and Münter.

In 1911 his book Über das Geistige in der Kunst (Concerning the Spiritual in Art) was published. In the 1920s Kandinsky taught at the Bauhaus School in Weimar and Dassau. He was a respected teacher, underlining that the artist must show spirituality and be dedicated to expressing an “internal necessity”.

Kandinsky is considered a pioneer of abstract painting, both of lyrical abstraction in the years before the First World War, and of the geometric Constructivism subsequently developed in Europe and America.