Wassily Kandinsky

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Wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky (Russian: Василий Кандинский, first name pronounced as [vassi:li]) (December 4, 1866 O.S., (December 16, 1866 N.S.) – December 13, 1944) was a Russian painter and art theorist. One of the most important 20th-century artists, he is credited with painting the first modern abstract art works.


  • But, as well as the body, the spirit fortifies itself and develops itself by the exercise. As a neglected body which becomes weak and finally impotent, the spirit becomes weaker. The innate feeling of the artist is like the talent of the Gospel which must not be buried. The artist which lets its gifts unemployed is the lazy servant.
    • On the Spiritual In Art
  • Painting is an art, and the art in its whole is not a vain objets creation which get lost in the void, but a power which has a goal and must serve to the evolution and to the refinement of the human soul, to the moving of the Triangle. It is the language which speaks to the soul, in its proper form, of things which are the daily bread of the soul and which it can receive only under this form.
    • On the Spiritual In Art
  • on making abstraction (1912): In a composition in which corporeal elements are more or less superfluous, they can be more or less omitted and replaced by purely abstract forms, or by corporeal forms that have been completed abstracted.
    • On the Spiritual in Art
  • Is beautiful what proceeds from an inner necessity of the soul. Is beautiful what is inwardly beautiful.
    • On the Spiritual In Art
Wassily Kandinsky. Gorge Improvisation, 1914
  • Colour is a power which directly influences the soul.Colour is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammer, the soul is the strings.The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul.
    • Concerning the Spiritual in Art
  • Every phenomenon can be experienced in two ways. These two ways are not arbitrary, but are bound up with the phenomenon – developing out of its nature and characteristics : Externally – or – inwardly.
    • Point and line to plane
  • The geometric point is an invisible thing. Therefore, it must be defined as an incorporeal thing. Considered in terms of substance, it equals zero. […] Thus we look upon the geometric point as the ultimate and most singular union of silence and speech. The geometric point has, therefore, been given its material form, in the first instance, in writing. It belongs to language and signifies silence.
    • Point and line to plane
  • The geometric line is an invisible thing. It is the track made by the moving point; that is, its product. It is created by movement – specifically through the destruction of the intense self-contained repose of the point. Here, the leap out of the static to the dynamic occurs. […] The forces coming from without which transform the point into a line, can be very diverse. The variation in lines depends upon the number of these forces and upon their combinations.
    • Point and line to plane
  • In this painting, I was in fact in quest for a certain hour, which was and which remains always the most beautiful hour of the day in Moscow. The sun is already low and has reached its highest force, which it has searched all the day, to which it has aspired all the day. […] The sun dissolves all Moscow in a spot which, as a frenzied tuba, makes entered into vibration all the inner being, the whole soul. […] Rendering this hour seemed the biggest, the most impossible of the happiness for an artist. These impressions renewed every sunny day. They brought me a joy which shattered me until the bottom of the soul, and which reached until ecstasy.
    • Looks on the past
  • The world is full of resonances. It constitutes a cosmos of things exerting a spiritual action. The dead matter is a living spirit.
    • On the question of the form
  • (1911): There is no form, there is nothing in the world which says nothing. Often - it is true - the message does not reach our soul, either because it has no meaning in and for itself, or - as is more likely – because it has not been conveyed to the right place.. ..Every serious work rings inwardly, like the calm and dignified words: ‘Here I am!'
    • Kandinsky, Concerning the spiritual in Art, Munich, 1911
  • (1911): All means (in painting) are sacred when they are dictated by inner necessity. All means are reprehensible when they do not spring from the fountain of inner necessity.. ..The artist must be blind to ‘recognized’ and ‘unrecognized’ form, deaf to the teachings and desires of his time. His open eyes must be directed to his inner life and his ears must be constantly attuned to the voice of inner necessity.
    • Kandinsky, Concerning the spiritual in Art, Munich, 1911
  • on colour (1912/13): Colour is a means of exerting direct influence on the soul.
    • Anna Moszynska, Abstract Art, Thames and Hudson, 1990
  • on colour and music (1912/13: Colour is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hands which plays touching one key or another purposively to cause vibrations in the Soul.
    • Anna Moszynska, Abstract Art, Thames and Hudson, 1990
  • on the two most impressive moments of his life: ..Lohengrin at the Court theatre in Moscow and the painting of Monet: the Hayststacks.. ..that stamped my life and shook me to the depths of my being.
    • Anna Moszynska, Abstract Art, Thames and Hudson, 1990
  • on his his appreciation of Schönberg's music (1911): In your works, you have realized what I, albeit in uncertain form, have so greatly longed for in music. The independent progress through their own destinies, the independent life of the individual voices in your compositions is exactly what I am trying to find in my paintings.
    • letter to Schönberg, 1911, after the performance of Schönberg's second string quartet and the "Three piano pieces"
  • on destruction in creating his ‘Composition 4' (1913): What thus appears a mighty collapse in objective terms is, when one isolates its sound, a living paeans of praise, the hymn of that new creation that follows upon the destruction of the world.
    • Anna Moszynska, Abstract Art, Thames and Hudson, 1990


Wassily Kandinsky. To the Unknown Voice, 1916
  • Art, like love, has a fine detail to it. You need to know exactly what is going on.
  • What is right artistically can only be attained through feeling.
  • My predilection for what is hidden,for the mysterious,saved me from the unhappy influence of popular art.
  • Art has much in common with religion.
  • Both of us loved blue, Franz Marc horses, I riders. Hence the name Der Blaue Reiter.(The Blue Rider)
  • Just because an artist uses 'abstract methods' ,it does not mean he is an 'abstract' artist.It does not even mean he is an artist.
  • A work of art consists of two elements,the inner and outer. The inner is the emotion in the soul of the artist...it has the capacity to evoke similar emotions in the observer..it must exist otherwise the work of art is a sham.
  • There is no must in art because art is free.
  • The purpose of my book concerning the 'Spiritual in Art' and 'Der Blaue Reiter was to awaken the ability to experience the spiritual in material and abstract things..the desire to bring out this joyful ability in people who don't have it..it was the main purpose of both publications.
  • The medieval pictures I painted were inspired by the impressions of old Schwabing.
  • Let the viewer stroll around within the picture,to force him to forget himself and so to become a part of the picture.
  • I more or less dissolved the objects(in my improvisations) so that not all of them could be recognised at once,so that the spiritual overtones could be gradually experienced by the viewer one after the other...and here and there even purely abstract forms came in of their own accord,in other words,that had to have a purely painterly effect.
  • As has been said...it is impossible to make clear the aims of a work of art by means of words.
  • I only want to paint good,necessary,living pictures,which are experienced properly by at least a few viewers.
  • I saw all my colours in spirit.Wild,almost mad lines drew themselves in front of me.(On seeing Wagner's Lohengrin)
  • Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammer, the soul is the piano with the strings. (Comparing Painting and Music)
  • Humanity is like a triangle, with a lone visionary at the apex.

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