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 Wassily Kandinsky

Born:   16 December (O.S. 4 December) 1866
Deceased:   13 December 1944

Artist, one of the founders and theorists of the abstract art.


Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky was born on December, 4th, 1866 in Moscow. His grandmother was a Mongolian princess, whereas his father came from the Siberian town of Kyakhta. Kandinsky’s parents were fond of travelling, and therefore Wassily as a boy visited Venice, Rome, Florence, Caucasus, and Crimea. In 1871 his parents moved to Odessa, where Wassily finished school.

Wassily Kandinsky’s first work was playing the piano and violoncello at music concerts. After a while Kandinsky began to draw, his pictures often showing quite nonconventional color combinations which he explained by the fact that each color has its own mysterious life.

In 1886 Kandinsky entered the Moscow State University, where he studied the law and economy. In 1889 he joined a university expedition to Vologda, where the artist was amazed by seeing unrealistic Russian folk creativity, which still remained in remote villages. The same year he visited Paris. By 1893, when Kandinsky received his Doctor's degree, he had lost interest in social sciences.

In 1896 he quit the post of a professor and left for Germany, where he was going to study painting to become a real artist.

For two years he studied painting from Anton Ažbe, then went on painting on his own, and afterwards entered the Fine Arts Academy in Munich, where he studied under Franz von Stuck. In 1900 Kandinsky graduated the academy. Kandinsky’s first shows were held in the frameworks of academic art exhibitions all over Europe.

The year 1903 saw the first personal exhibitions of Kandinsky in Moscow, and two years later it was repeated in Poland.

In 1902 Kandinsky met Gabriele Münter, and in 1909 moved with her to a small house near Bavaria. This period of Kandinsky’s creativity was characterized by formation of his own unique style in art - the purest abstractionism.

After the beginning of World War I in 1914, Kandinsky broke up with Gabriele Münter and returned to his homeland after passing by Switzerland, Italy and the Balkans. In 1916 Kandinsky met Nina Alekseyevskaya and married her in. They settled in Moscow, where Wassily Kandinsky intended to plunge into the Russian life.

Kandinsky was quite enthusiastic about the Revolution, since the first statements of Soviet leaders showed their loyalty to abstract artists. In 1918 he became the professor of the Moscow Academy of Fine Arts. In 1919 Kandinsky founded the Institute of Art Culture and worked hard to open 22 museums all over the country. In 1920 Kandinsky was already a professor of the Moscow State University. The same year his personal exhibition took place in Moscow. In 1921 communist authorities decided to promote a new style in art - the socialist realism – and due to their policy there was no space left for abstractionism in the USSR. The same year Kandinsky again left for Berlin.

When in 1922 he was offered a post at Bauhaus School in Weimar, he was happy to take it. In 1925 the school moved in Dessau, where he taught free fine arts instead of applied arts. In 1928 he obtained German citizenship. With the advent of the Nazis’ rule in 1933 the artist had to move to Paris, since they closed the school. Kandinsky spent the last 11 years of his life in a suburb of Paris. In 1939 Kandinsky became the citizen of France.

Wassily Kandinsky died on December, 13th, 1944 in France.

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