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Kandinsky, Wassili

Russian painter
1866 - 1944

Before 1914: Early years and Munich
1914 - 1921 Russia
1922 - 1933: The Bauhaus period
1934 - 1944: Paris

1. Early years and Munich, before 1914.

Kandinsky grew up in Odessa and from 1886 to 1893 studied economics, ethnography and law in Moscow, where he wrote a dissertation on the legality of labourers’ wages. He married his cousin Anya Shemyakina in 1892 (divorced 1911).

Poster for the 1st Phalanx Exhibition, 1901
Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich

In 1896 Kandinsky decided to become an artist and went to Munich. There he studied from 1896 to 1898 at the art school of Anton Ažbe, where he met Alexei Jawlensky and Marianne von Werefkin, and then in 1900 at the Akademie with Franz von Stuck. The following year he was a co-founder of the Phalanx exhibiting society, where he showed his work and taught at the art school. In 1902 one of the students in his painting class was gabriele Münter, who later became his companion.

Farewell, 1903. Color woodcut
The Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

Kandinsky’s early work consisted of figure studies, scenes of knights and riders, romantic fairytale subjects and other rather fanciful reminiscences of Russia, such as Twilight (1901; Munich, Lenbachhaus). After 1902 his prints (mostly colour woodcuts) acquired both a technical proficiency and a stylistic identity and cohesiveness. (Kandinsky had learnt about lithographic techniques while working for a printing firm in Moscow c. 1895.) At the turn of the century Munich was a centre for Jugendstil, and Kandinsky’s early prints grew out of Jugendstil as well as Russian art. Similar subjects and motifs appeared frequently in both the woodcuts and the paintings done in tempera and gouache on black backgrounds (Farbige Zeichnungen), which date from 1901 to 1908. Kandinsky later used a variety of printmaking techniques, including etching and drypoint.

Rotterdam, 1904
Centre Pompidou-MNAM, Paris

At this time Kandinsky began to paint small oil sketches en plein air, executing works with the palette-knife on canvas board. Between 1903 and 1909 he and Münter travelled extensively in the Netherlands (May–June 1904), Tunisia (Dec 1904–April 1905), Italy (Dec 1905–April 1906), France (May 1906–June 1907) and throughout Germany (including Sept 1907–April 1908 in Berlin). Oil studies such as Rotterdam (1904; Paris, Pompidou) record what he saw and capture the high-keyed colours and intense light that he encountered while travelling and working from nature: their small format was also suited to travel.

Automne en Bavière, (1908)
Centre Pompidou-MNAM, Paris

While in France, Kandinsky and Münter stayed in Sèvres, outside Paris, where at the time paintings by Gauguin, the Nabis, Matisse and other Fauves were being exhibited. Kandinsky responded to these influences, and his colours became more brilliant and vibrant, freed from the restriction of descriptive function. From around this time until 1923 he did not varnish his canvases, although he did later, sometimes selectively varnishing certain areas.

Xylographies, 1909
Arnold Schönberg Center, Vienna

Between 1904 and 1908 he maintained his contacts with Russia and participated in art exhibitions in Moscow and St Petersburg as well as in the Berlin Secession and the Salon d’Automne in Paris. His woodcuts Stikhi bez slov (‘Poems without words’) were published in Moscow in 1903, and he began the woodcuts for a further publication, Klänge, in 1907. Another series of photogravures, Xylographies, was published in Paris in 1909. Kandinsky was a co-founder of the Neue künstlervereinigung münchen (NKVM) in 1909, exhibiting with them at the Moderne Galerie Thannhauser in Munich in December of that year.

Church in Marnau, 1910
Lenbachhaus, Munich

In 1908 Kandinsky and Münter had begun to divide their time between Munich and Murnau, a small village near by. The Bavarian landscape dominated his paintings, and specific motifs such as the Murnau church tower recur in his work, for example Landscape with Tower (1908) and Church in Murnau (1910; both Munich, Lenbachhaus).

Blue Mountain, 1908–09
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

At this time Kandinsky had already developed a distinctive style of painting in which motifs were still recognizable, but the work gradually became more abstract, emphasizing the synthesis of colour, line and form over straightforward representation. Blue Mountain (1908–9; New York, Guggenheim) exemplifies his assimilation of Russian, French and German art. Horses and riders, trees and the blue mountain rise upward with metaphysical energy. Strident hues of red and green, intense violet and bright yellow create dissonant and complex colour harmonies. Pictorial elements are reduced to dark lines and flat, coloured shapes. Space has been compressed into several distinctly planar zones that reinforce the upward thrust of the composition. Kandinsky increasingly attenuated the forms in his paintings so that they ultimately lost their identity as representational images.

Kandinsky’s shift away from landscape painting towards abstraction was paralleled by a change in the character of his titles. In 1909 he painted his first Improvisation, the following year the first Composition and in 1911 the Impressions. These titles, to which numbers were assigned, were impersonal, non-specific, abstract categories derived from musical terminology.

Impression III 1911
Städtische Galerie,
Lenbachhaus, Munich
Improvisation 7, 1910
Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
Study for "Composition II" 1910
Solomon R. Guggebheim Mus.,
New York, NY

In his book Über das Geistige in der Kunst (Munich, 1912), on which he worked for a decade, Kandinsky defined Improvisations as the ‘largely unconscious, spontaneous expression of inner character, non-material nature’ and Impressions as the ‘direct impression of nature, expressed in purely pictorial form’. He considered his Compositions to be the most important of these works and described them as consciously created expressions of a ‘slowly formed inner feeling, tested and worked over repeatedly and almost pedantically’. Über das Geistige in der Kunst further discusses the spiritual foundations of art and the nature of artistic creation and includes an analysis of colour, form and the role of the object in art, as well as the question of abstraction. Kandinsky was unwilling to abandon representational images altogether because of his belief in the expressive function of art as communication. Like the Symbolists, he emphasized the effects of colour and discussed the associative properties of specific colours and the analogies between certain hues and the sounds of musical instruments. He loved music and had learnt to play the piano and cello as a child. Also in this treatise he referred to theosophy and to the writings of Rudolf Steiner and Mme Blavatsky (1831–91). Occultism in general and Theosophy in particular appear to have influenced his thinking about abstraction.

Lyrisches (Lyrical), 1911
Mus. Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam

By 1911 Kandinsky’s paintings no longer represented objects in nature, and the non-mimetic intention of his art was evident. In Lyrical (Jan 1911; Rotterdam, Mus. Boymans–van Beuningen) his favourite image of the horse and rider (familiar in his art since 1901) is reduced to essential lines. In formulating Improvisations and other canvases between 1911 and 1913, he frequently made preparatory watercolour sketches in which he gradually moved away from the object and obscured specific motifs so that only traces of their representational origins remained. Both Composition IV (Feb 1911; Düsseldorf, Kstsamml. Nordrhein–Westfalen) and Composition V (Nov 1911; Switzerland, priv. col., see Roethel and Benjamin, 1982–4, i, p. 388) present radically abstracted images. In the latter, images can be deciphered only with difficulty and only in relation to other works by Kandinsky. The jury of the NKVM rejected Composition V, and this, together with other contributing factors, led Kandinsky, Franz Marc and Alfred Kubin to break with the group at the end of 1911.

Almanach Der Blaue Reiter

In 1911 Kandinsky and Marc began to prepare Der Blaue Reiter Almanach, which was published in Munich in the spring of 1912. This anthology contained Kandinsky’s essays ‘Über die Formfrage’ and ‘Über Bühnenkomposition’. The latter showed Kandinsky’s interest in the theatre, which he considered an ideal vehicle for the synthesis of the arts. His libretto for Der gelbe Klang, an abstract stage composition, which he, Marc, August Macke and other Munich artists hoped to produce in the Münchner Künstlertheater in spring 1914, was also included in Der Blaue Reiter Almanach. Klänge, Kandinsky’s volume of prose, poems and woodcuts, was published in Munich in 1912. Both Der Blaue Reiter Almanach and Über das Geistige in der Kunst reveal the great diversity of Kandinsky’s intellectual and artistic awareness. In December 1911 the first exhibition of the editorial board of Der Blaue Reiter opened at the Moderne Galerie Thannhauser in Munich, followed by a second exhibition in February 1912. Around this time Kandinsky formed friendships with Hans Arp and Paul Klee and corresponded with Robert Delaunay, Natal’ya Goncharova and Mikhail Larionov. His work was included in important exhibitions in the years before World War I: the Jack of Diamonds exhibition in Moscow (1912), the Sonderbund in Cologne (1912), the Moderne Bund in Zurich (1912), the Armory Show in New York (1913) and the Moderne Kunstkring in Amsterdam (1913). Between 1912 and 1918 Herwarth Walden’s Sturm-Galerie in Berlin showed Kandinsky’s work.

Composition VI, 1913
St Petersburg, Hermitage

In 1913 Kandinsky executed major paintings, including Composition VI (St Petersburg, Hermitage) in March, Painting with White Border (New York, Guggenheim; see fig. 2) in May and Composition VII (Moscow, Tret’yakov Gal.) in November. Many watercolours and oil sketches preceded Painting with White Border and Composition VII and reveal the gradual evolution of the apocalyptic imagery in each painting. Composition VII marks the culmination of themes of the Last Judgement, the Resurrection, the Deluge and the Garden of Love.

Black Lines, December 1913
Solomon R. Guggenheim Mus., NY

The artist’s essays on Composition VI and Painting with White Border as well as his ‘Reminiscences’ were published in the Sturm monograph Kandinsky, 1901–1913 (Berlin, 1913).

In December 1913 Kandinsky painted Light Picture and Black Lines (both New York, Guggenheim). Years later the artist singled out these two canvases as non-objective pictures, that is totally abstract works rather than abstractions from objects. Neither painting relies on the perception or observation of nature, and each breaks free from the restrictions of objective origins.

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2. Russia, 1914–21

Auf hellem Grund, 1916
(Painting on Light Ground)
Centre Pompidou-MNAM, Paris

Since Kandinsky was a Russian citizen, he was forced to leave Munich immediately after the outbreak of World War I on 1 August 1914. Kandinsky and Münter stayed for several months near Goldach on Lake Konstanz in Switzerland, where he made the notes he used later in his treatise Punkt und Linie zu Fläche (published as a Bauhaus booklet in Munich in 1926). At the end of 1914 he went back to Russia. During the war years Kandinsky’s art changed decisively; he did not execute any oils in 1915 or 1918. In December 1915 he travelled to Stockholm, where Münter had gone to wait for him, and he stayed with her until the middle of March 1916. There he executed Painting on Light Ground (1916; Paris, Pompidou) as well as the fanciful, figurative watercolours or ‘bagatelles’, as Kandinsky called them, which were exhibited at Carl Gummeson’s Konsthandel in February. His essay Om konstnären (‘On the artist’; Stockholm, 1916) was published on the occasion of Münter’s exhibition there. Not long after he returned to Moscow, Kandinsky met a young Russian woman, Nina von Andreyevskaya, whom he married in February 1917. Thus his long relationship with Gabriele Münter came to an end.

Einfach , 1916 (Simple)
Centre Pompidou-MNAM, Paris

Between 1915 and 1919 Kandinsky produced numerous drawings and watercolours, as well as prints and paintings on glass (similar to the Hinterglasbilder he had done in Germany in 1909–13). At times he reverted to a more representational style: he painted numerous realistic landscapes, views of Moscow and figure paintings, as well as many fairytale scenes. However, his work encompassed totally abstract ink drawings, and gradually geometric shapes became more prevalent in his work. He encountered the abstract, geometric Suprematist painting of Kazimir Malevich and the Constructivist work of Vladimir Tatlin. In Moscow he lived in the same building as Aleksandr Rodchenko, and he met Malevich, Tatlin, Ivan Klyun, Naum Gabo, Antoine Pevsner, Lyubov’ Popova and Varvara Stepanova, among others. Soon after the October Revolution of 1917, Narkompros was established and Anatoly Lunacharsky was named Commissar. Within Narkompros (the People’s Commissariat for Enlightenment), the Department of Visual Arts (IZO) was set up under Tatlin, who invited Kandinsky to participate in January 1918. In April the innovative Svomas (Free Art Studios) was formed.

Untitled, 1919
(Study for painting "Dans le gris")
Centre Pompidou-MNAM, Paris

Kandinsky’s activities as a teacher, writer, administrator and organizer took much of his time and energy. He played an active role in Narkompros, where he was director of the theatre and film sections as well as editor of a journal for IZO, and he was also head of a studio at Moscow Svomas. In 1918 the Russian edition of ‘Reminiscences’ was published in Tekst khudozhnika (‘Text by the artist’) by IZO in Moscow. When the Museums of Painterly Culture were founded in Moscow, Petrograd (now St Petersburg) and other cities in February 1919, Kandinsky became the first director of the organization and worked to establish a system of 22 provincial museums. He worked on the Entsiklopediya izobrazitel’nogo iskusstva (‘Encyclopedia of fine arts’), which was never published, and was appointed honorary professor at the University of Moscow. In May 1920 Kandinsky was active in the organization of Inkhuk (the Institute of Artistic Culture) in Moscow and was its head until his programme was rejected, and he left the Institute at the end of the year. He was also active in Vkhutemas (the Higher Artistic and Technical Workshops), which replaced Svomas. In 1921 Kandinsky was active in establishing RAKhN (the Russian Academy of Artistic Sciences), was appointed vice-president and submitted a plan for the physico-psychological department.

Multicoloured Circle, 1921

Kandinsky also found time to produce large, innovative canvases and many watercolours and drawings. After an initial return to earlier styles, he developed distinctive modes of pictorial organization that emphasized oval forms and relied on borders or diagonal bands of colour to define the perimeters of his compositions. By 1921 he began to use the circle in several canvases and depicted it in an emphatically geometric manner in Multicoloured Circle (1921; New Haven, CT, Yale U. A.G.), which reflects the artist’s understanding of Russian avant-garde art. Kandinsky continued his interest in the applied arts and in 1920–21 made several designs for cups and saucers.

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3. The Bauhaus period, 1922–33 *

In subsequent years Kandinsky pursued his long-standing interest in a variety of art forms, his predilection for geometric forms becoming clearly articulated during the Bauhaus period. Although he had participated in various programmes of Narkompros and had exhibited and published often, Kandinsky no longer exercised any significant influence and was alienated from the Russian avant-garde. In autumn 1921 he was invited by Walter Gropius to visit the Bauhaus in Berlin. The Kandinskys reached Berlin in December 1921. After his arrival, he was offered a professorship at the Bauhaus in Weimar. He moved there and began to teach in June. He became master of the wall painting workshop and taught one of the courses on the theory of form. The faculty, which included Lyonel Feininger, Johannes Itten, Paul Klee and Oskar Schlemmer, developed innovative theoretical courses, led practical workshops and instruction in crafts and sought to reunite all artistic disciplines.

From the left: Josef Albers, Hinnerk Scheper, Georg Muche, László Moholy-Nagy, Herbert Bayer, Joost Schmidt, Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, Vassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Lyonel Feininger, Gunta Stölzl and Oskar Schlemmer
© Photos: Bauhaus Archive Berlin

On his return to Germany, Kandinsky had one-man shows of his work at Galerie Goldschmidt-Wallerstein in Berlin (1922) and at the Moderne Galerie Thannhauser in Munich (1922). In Berlin during 1922 he designed wall paintings for the entrance room of the Juryfreie Kunstausstellung, exhibited in the Erste russische Kunstausstellung at the Galerie van Diemen, and had a portfolio of his graphic works, Kleine Welten, published. In 1923 he held a one-man show in New York at the Société Anonyme, of which he became the first honorary vice-president. In 1924 the Blue Four exhibition group, which comprised Feininger, Jawlensky, Klee and Kandinsky, was formed by Galka Scheyer, who became their representative in the USA. At the Bauhaus, Kandinsky executed some three hundred oils and several hundred watercolours. From the beginning, he had systematically recorded his paintings in a handlist, and, after 1922, he catalogued the watercolours as well. The watercolours assumed an important and independent role in his work during the Bauhaus period. He also produced many drawings, which frequently related to his pedagogical theories.

Composition VIII, 1923
Solomon R. Guggenheim Mus., New York

By 1923 Kandinsky had formulated new images and a new way to organize pictorial elements. In Composition VIII (New York, Guggenheim) precise lines and simple geometric shapes are strewn over the large canvas: circles, semicircles, triangles, squares, curved lines and acute angles are placed without central focus or spatial unity. A large black circle surrounded by a pink aura dominates the upper left corner. On White (1923; Paris, Pompidou) emphasizes the strictly geometric forms, new colour harmonies and the clear differentiation between figure and ground that emerged in his work.

Circle in a Circle, 1923
Philadelphia Museum of Art

Circles in a Circle (1923; Philadelphia, PA, Mus. A.) contains 26 circles within a tondo; Several Circles (1926; New York, Guggenheim; see fig. 3) derives its meaning from the repetition of overlapping, coloured circles. For Kandinsky, the circle, the most elementary form, had symbolic, cosmic meaning: ‘the circle is the synthesis of the greatest oppositions. It combines the concentric and the excentric in a single form, and in equilibrium’ (Grohmann, 1958, p. 188).

During the Bauhaus period, Kandinsky used circles, squares, triangles, zigzags, chequer-boards and arrows as components of his abstract vocabulary. They became meaningful pictorial elements just as the abstract images of towers, horses, boats and rowers had carried connotations in his art in earlier years. As the artist explained in 1929 (Grohmann, 1958, p. 188): "If I make such frequent, vehement use of the circle in recent years, the reason (cause) for this is not the geometric form of the circle, or its countless variations; I love the circle today as I formerly loved the horse, for instance—perhaps even more, since I find more inner potentialities in the circle, which is why it has taken the horse’s place."

Gelb-Rot-Blau, 1925 (Jaune-Rouge-Bleu)
Centre Pompidou-MNAM, Paris

In the mid-1920s the theoretical aspect of Kandinsky’s work became increasingly apparent. He painted Yellow–Red–Blue (1925; Paris, Pompidou) while working on the manuscript of Punkt und Linie zu Fläche, which he had begun in 1914. The title of the painting refers to the three primary colours, which dominate the canvas and are arranged in the same sequence as in the colour scale. In Punkt und Linie zu Fläche he elaborated on the significance of colour, geometric forms, placement of compositional elements and directionality.

When the Bauhaus moved from Weimar to Dessau in June 1925, Kandinsky devoted his time to writing and planning exhibitions of his work in addition to his teaching and administrative duties. On the occasion of his 60th birthday in 1926, an exhibition of his work travelled to several German cities, including Brunswick, Dresden, Berlin and Dessau, and the first issue of the periodical Bauhaus was dedicated to him.

In Dessau, Kandinsky shared a double house with Klee, and the close relationship between the two artists is reflected in their influence on each other’s work. Between 1926 and 1932 Kandinsky’s production of watercolours and oils was prolific, and the development of his style was consistent with the Weimar years. He retained an interest in the theatre and published a Bauhaus booklet, Über die abstrakte Bühnensynthese, in 1923.

Picture II, Gnomus.
Stage set for Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition in Friedrich Theater, Dessau. 1928
Tempera, watercolor and ink on paper
Theaterwissenschaftliche Sammlung der Universität zu Köln, Cologne, Germany

In 1928 he directed the staging of Musorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition for the Friedrich-Theater in Dessau, producing ambitious scenery and costumes influenced by Oskar Schlemmer and dividing the score into 16 scenes. Abstract and geometrical props, some of them in motion, were suspended in front of a black backdrop to create the impression of an extended painting, which had temporal and spatial dimensions. An annotated visual score by Paul Klee’s son Felix records the cues for props and lighting (Paris, Pompidou).

In 1931 Kandinsky designed ceramic tiles for a music room at the Deutsche Bauausstellung in Berlin. After the Nazis forced the closure of the Bauhaus in Dessau in August 1932, Kandinsky joined the short-lived effort to re-establish it in Berlin until it closed for good in July 1933. At that time the Kandinskys went to France, where they settled at the end of the year in Neuilly-sur-Seine near Paris.

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4. Paris, 1934–44

Division-Unity, 1934
Sezon Museum of Modern Art,
Nagano, Japan

Kandinsky’s first Paris pictures, which date from February 1934, are a continuation in many ways of his last work in Berlin. The hieratic pictorial organization, the essential structure based on geometric forms, the use of mixed-media techniques and the addition of sand to oil paintings were all introduced during the last years at Dessau. Kandinsky’s reputation preceded his arrival, since his work had been included in exhibitions in Paris in 1929–30 and reproduced in French publications. His involvement with both the Abstraction–Création group and the Surrealists began before his residence in Paris. His work in Paris is characterized by the introduction of biomorphic forms, the incorporation of sand with pigment in well-defined areas of the painting and a new delicacy and brightness in his colour harmonies. He preferred pastel hues to the primary colours he had used in the 1920s. In his Parisian work he favoured new images derived from biology, zoology and embryology. Amoebae as well as embryonic and cellular forms can be identified in Each for Itself (1934; Paris, priv. col., see Roethel and Benjamin, 1982–4, ii, p. 930) and Division–Unity (1934; Tokyo, Seibu Mus. A.).

Trente, 1937
Centre Pompidou-MNAM, Paris

Between 1934 and 1944 Kandinsky executed 144 oil paintings, approximately 250 watercolours and several hundred drawings. The Parisian work reveals his personal response to prevailing artistic tendencies: the free, organic shapes of Surrealism, on the one hand, and the geometric abstraction of Art concret and Abstraction–Création on the other. Thus, he employed a combination of biomorphic and geometric forms as the basis for an abstract style.

Formes capricieuses
Solomon R. Guggenheim Mus., New York

In the painting Thirty (1937; Paris, Pompidou) the rigid, grid-like format with alternating light and dark squares and the emphasis on positive and negative forms present a geometric, even mathematical solution, whereas Accompanied Contrast (1937; Paris, priv. col., see Roethel and Benjamin, 1982–4, ii, p. 973) relies on vivid pastel hues, wavy lines, spiky forms and imaginative floating shapes. Kandinsky made two detailed drawings and squared one with a grid in preparation for the final canvas. Increasingly, he made preliminary drawings for watercolours as well as for oils. In these he worked out the entire composition, specified details and indicated colours by abbreviated notations in Russian.

Composition IX 1936
Centre Pompidou-MNAM, Paris

During the summer of 1937 Kandinsky’s work was included in the Entartete kunst exhibition organized by the Nazis in Munich. The same year he participated in the exhibition Origines et Développement de l’Art International Indépendant at the Jeu de Paume in Paris. In 1938 he had a one-man show at the Guggenheim Jeune Gallery in London, and his poems and woodcuts were published in New York in Transition (xxvii, pp. 104–9). The French government purchased Composition IX (1936; Paris, Pompidou; see fig. 4) in 1939. That summer Kandinsky was denied renewal of his German passport but obtained French citizenship just before war was declared in September. During the occupation of France, the Kandinskys spent most of their time in Neuilly.

Accord réciproque, 1942
Centre Pompidou-MNAM, Paris

Kandinsky’s last large paintings date from 1939 to 1942. In many works, including the monumental canvas Composition X (1939; Düsseldorf, Kstsamml. Nordrhein–Westfalen), the last in the series, he used black backgrounds. In his late gouaches these backgrounds can be interpreted as a reprise of his early Jugendstil-inspired work of 1901 to 1908. Kandinsky’s penultimate canvas, Reciprocal Accord (1942; Paris, Pompidou), is large in scale and balanced in composition: it epitomizes the elegance and grandeur of his art.

Kandinsky continued to write during his years in Paris but limited himself to shorter texts that expressed familiar points of view. The essay Abstract concreet (Amsterdam, 1938) expressed his belief in totally abstract art, which he preferred now to call ‘concrete art’. In the essay L’Art concret (Paris, 1938) Kandinsky emphasized the correspondence between painting and music as he had done almost 30 years earlier in Über das Geistige in der Kunst. He wrote the preface for the portfolio 10 Origin (Zurich, 1942), edited by Max Bill, and contributed the preface for an album of César Domela’s work (Paris, 1943). His continuing interest in the applied arts and in the theatre and music was reflected in his designs for fabric and in his discussions with Léonide Massine (1895–1979) for a proposed multimedia ballet.

Untitled, 1944
(Ink on paper)
Centre Pompidou-MNAM, Paris

In the early 1940s his production of drawings was prolific. Because of the war, Kandinsky could not obtain canvas and other materials; consequently, his last works are painted on board. He painted 48 small pictures on wood or canvas board between the summer of 1942 and March 1944. His last watercolours and drawings date from the summer of 1944. Kandinsky’s work is remarkable for its technical proficiency. Throughout his life he used a variety of painting materials, including water-soluble pigments, varnish, bronze and aluminium paint and grains of sand in his oil paintings. His sketchbooks are in the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus in Munich and in the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris.

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• H. K. Roethel and J. Hahl-Koch, eds: Autobiographische Schriften, i of Kandinsky: Die gesammelten Schriften (Berne, 1980)
• K. C. Lindsay and P. Vergo, eds: Kandinsky: Complete Writings on Art, 2 vols (Boston, 1982) [best source of information on Kandinsky’s published writings, with excellent Eng. trans.]

• K. C. Lindsay: An Examination of the Fundamental Theories of Wassily Kandinsky (diss., Madison, U. WI, 1951)
• K. Brisch: Wassily Kandinsky: Untersuchungen zur Entstehung der gegenstandslosen Malerei an seinem Werk von 1900–1921 (diss., U. Bonn, 1955)
• J. Eichner: Kandinsky und Gabriele Münter: Von Ursprungen moderner Kunst (Munich, 1957)
• W. Grohmann: Wassily Kandinksy: Leben und Werk (Cologne, 1958; Eng. trans., London, 1959) [basic source]
• P. Overy: Kandinsky: The Language of the Eye (New York, 1969)
• S. Ringbom: The Sounding Cosmos: A Study in the Spiritualism of Kandinsky and the Genesis of Abstract Painting (Turku, 1970)
• H. K. Roethel: Kandinsky: Das graphische Werk (Cologne, 1970) [cat. rais.]
• E. Hanfstaengl: Wassily Kandinsky: Zeichnungen und Aquarelle: Katalog der Sammlung in der städtischen Galerie im Lenbachhaus München (Munich, 1974)
• N. Kandinsky: Kandinsky und ich (Munich, 1976) [memoirs of the artist’s widow]
• H. K. Roethel and J. K. Benjamin: Kandinsky (New York, 1979)
• P. Weiss: Kandinsky in Munich: The Formative Jugendstil Years (Princeton, 1979)
• Kandinsky: Trente Peintures des musées soviétiques (exh. cat., ed. C. Derouet; Paris, Pompidou, 1979)
• J. E. Bowlt and R.-C. Washton Long, eds: The Life of Vasilii Kandinsky in Russian Art: A Study of ‘On the Spiritual in Art’ (Newtonville, 1980)
• R.-C. Washton Long: Kandinsky: The Development of an Abstract Style (Oxford, 1980)
• Kandinsky in Munich, 1896–1914 (exh. cat., ed. P. Weiss; New York, Guggenheim, 1982)
• H. K. Roethel and J. K. Benjamin: Kandinsky: Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings, 2 vols (London, 1982–4)
• V. E. Barnett: Kandinsky at the Guggenheim (New York, 1983) [complete cat.]
• Kandinsky: Russian and Bauhaus Years, 1915–1933 (exh. cat. by C. V. Poling, New York, Guggenheim, 1983)
• C. Derouet and J. Boissel: Kandinsky (Paris, 1984) [cat. of Nina Kandinsky’s bequest to Mus. N. A. Mod., Paris]
• Kandinsky in Paris, 1934–1944 (exh. cat. by C. Derouet and V. E. Barnett, New York, Guggenheim, 1985)
• C. V. Poling: Kandinsky’s Teaching at the Bauhaus (New York, 1986)
• Wassily Kandinsky: Die erste sowjetische Retrospektive (exh. cat. by N. Avtonomova, Frankfurt am Main, Schirn Ksthalle, 1989)
• Theme and Improvisation: Kandinsky and the American Avant-garde, 1912–1950 (exh. cat. by G. Levin and M. Lorenz, Dayton, OH, A. Inst., 1992)
• V. E. Barnett: Kandinsky Watercolours: Catalogue Raisonné, 2 vols (New York and London, 1992–4)
• P. Weiss: Kandinsky and Old Russia: The Artist as Ethnographer and Shaman (New Haven, 1995)

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• * For more information on the bauhaus period, visit the Bauhaus - Archiv Museum of Design official site
• To learn more about Kankinsky, we recommend you visit www.artcyclopedia.com, a great site with fantastic links.
• The Pompidou Museum has a wonderful online database of their collection.

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