- NAME: Wassily Kandinsky
- OCCUPATION: Educator, Painter, Lawyer
- BIRTH DATE: December 16, 1866
- DEATH DATE: December 13, 1944
- EDUCATION: University of Moscow, Academy of Fine Arts, Munich
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Moscow, Russia
- PLACE OF DEATH: Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
- Full Name: Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky
- AKA: Wassily Kandinsky
Best Known For
Russian-born painter Wassily Kandinsky is credited as a leader in avant-garde art as one of the founders of pure abstraction in painting in the early 20th century.
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During this time he met art student Gabriele Münter in 1903 and moved in with her before his divorce from his wife was finalized in 1911. They traveled extensively, settling in Bavaria before the outbreak of World War I.
He had already formed the New Artists Association in Munich; the Blue Rider group was founded with fellow artist Franz Marc, and he was a member of the Bauhaus movement alongside Klee and composer Arnold Schoenberg.
When he and Münter separated,
Kandinsky suffered a nervous breakdown. World War I took him back to Russia, where his artistic eye was influenced by the constructivist movement, based on hard lines, dots and geometry. While there, the 50-year-old Kandinsky met and married Nina Andreevskaya, a 17-year-old art student. They had a son together, but the boy lived for only three years and the subject of children became taboo. The couple stayed on in Russia after the revolution, with Kandinsky applying his restless and comprehensive energies to the administration of educational and government-run art programs, helping to create Moscow’s Institute of Artistic Culture and Museum of Pictorial Culture.
Back in Germany after clashing theoretically with other artists, he taught at the Bauhaus school in Berlin and wrote plays and poems. In 1933, when the Nazis seized power, storm troopers shut down the Bauhaus school. Although Kandinsky had achieved German citizenship, World War II made it impossible for him to stay there. In July 1937, he and other artists were featured in the “Degenerate Art Exhibition” in Munich. It was widely attended, but 57 of his works were confiscated by the Nazis.
Kandinsky died of cerebrovascular disease in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, on December 13, 1944.
He and Nina had moved to the suburb of Paris in the late 1930s, when Marcel Duchamp had found a little apartment for them. When the Germans invaded France in 1940, Kandinsky fled to the Pyrenees, but returned to Neuilly afterward, where he lived a rather secluded life, depressed that his paintings weren’t selling. Although still considered controversial by many, he had earned prominent supporters such as Solomon Guggenheim and continued to exhibit till his death.
Little of the work Kandinsky produced in Russia has survived, although many of the paintings he created in Germany are still extant. The New York auction houses continue to do him proud today—in recent years, his artwork has sold for well over $20 million. Kandinsky believed that each time period puts its own indelible stamp on artistic expression; his vivid interpretations of color through musical and spiritual sensibilities certainly altered the artistic landscape at the start of the 20th century going forward, precipitating the modern age.
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