Wassily Kandinsky (Russian, December 16, 1866–December 13, 1944) was an early 20th-century Russian painter whose work is most closely associated with pure Abstraction. Kandinsky was born in Moscow, Russia, to Lida Ticheeva and Vasily Silvestrovich Kandinsky. During Kandinsky's childhood, music was a strong influence. Both of his parents played instruments, which led to Kandinsky himself playing both the piano and the cello from a young age. Several of his paintings have musical titles, including the series Improvisations and Compositions, which highlight the influence this upbringing had on his art. While Kandinsky had a long, illustrious artistic career, his early studies did not focus on artistic creation. Kandinsky studied law and economics at the University of Moscow.

It wasn't until 1896, when the artist was 30, that he began his artistic endeavors. Kandinsky gave up a lucrative career of teaching to enroll in art school in Munich, Germany. It is said that while he was still in Russia, Kandinsky was able to see an exhibition featuring the paintings of Claude Monet (French, 1840–1926), which was a large part of his artistic inspiration. It was the series Haystacks at Giverny that inspired him to think of art in a nontraditional way. It is said that Kandinsky was bothered by Monet's impressionistic style. Kandinsky's own work would go beyond simple Impressionism into the realm of Abstraction.

Kandinsky was not only a painter, but was also an influential art theorist. His theoretical philosophies were first published in 1910 in his book Concerning the Spiritual in Art. In 1911, Kandinsky famously established Der Blaue Reiter, or the Blue Rider, an art group whose members included Gabriele Münter (1877–1962), Franz Marc (1880–1916), August Macke (1887–1914), and Paul Klee (1879–1940). After the start of World War I in 1914, he left Germany and returned to his hometown of Moscow. Kandinsky was also well-known for his later ties to the historical German Bauhaus School. While at the Bauhaus, Kandinsky taught a range of courses, ranging from basic design to advanced theory. In 1926, he published the book Point and Line to Plane. After the closing of the Bauhaus by the oppressive Nazi regime, Kandinsky moved to France where he would live until his death. Kandinsky gained French citizenship in 1939. Five years later, he died in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, leaving behind an Abstract Art legacy.

Timeline

1866
Born: Moscow, Russia on December 16
1886–1892
University of Moscow, Moscow, Russia
1897–1899
Studied under the private instruction of Anton Azbe
1900
Entered Kunstakademie (The Munich Academy of Arts) and studied under Franz Stuck
1900
Participated in the exhibition of the Moscow Partnership of Artists
1901
Founded Phalanx, an art group
1909
Founded the New Group of Artists (Neue Kunstlervereinigung), and became the President
1911
Kandinsky and Frantsem Mark established the group Blue Rider (Blaue Reiter)
1910–1912
Participated in the exhibition of “Jack of Diamonds” art group
1912
Published Concerning the Spiritual in Art, the first theoretical foundation of abstractionism
1922
Joined the Bauhaus school of art and architecture by invitation of founder Walter Gropius and teaches there until its close by the Nazis in 1933
1944
Died at Neuilly-sur-Seine, France

Exhibitions

2009–2010
Sept. - Jan., "Kandinsky - Absolute. Abstract", New York, NY
2009
April - Aug., "Kandinsky - Absolute. Abstract", Paris, France
2006
June 22 - Oct. 1, "Kandinsky, The Path to Abstraction", Tate Modern, London, England
1909
Neue Künstlervereinigung München (NKVM). Heinrich Thannhauser’s Moderne Galerie. Munich, Germany.