Friday, February 1, 2013

Wassily Kandinsky

I don't know much about Kandinsky.  I didn't know his first name was Wassily.  I didn't know he was from Russia.  I didn't know who his friends were and where he found inspiration.  I knew that the first I heard of him I think I was in high school and it was from a friend who either showed me a print or pointed out some Kandinsky work some where.... I don't know.  But I had a feeling about him.  Like he was an important abstract artist.  And as my visits to the Chicago Art Institute became more frequent and I began to go there to study different artists I began to notice Kandinsky.  More so after the accident I think.  But I can't swear to it.

Anyway, through the years I have done a few studies of Kandinsky's work and probably only noticed his name after I studied them.  Still, I've always had a good feeling about him.

So when I began to trace this painting on a door that has haunted me since the Chicago Art Institute's exhibit, "Degenerate Art:  Fate of the Avante-Garde in Nazi Germany."  I finally called the Art Institute and asked about this painting on a door.  I found out the exhibit was in 1991 which was three years before the accident.  So that's cool.  That this image has stayed with me when so much was lost gave it a certain significance over the years.  I found out there was a book about it so I ordered it through my library.  And I've been looking through it and I decided to do some research on the artists, whose work I admired.  There were quite a few.

Yesterday I studied Franz Marc.  It is a very different thing, to find out about how an artist lived or where they lived and what was going on around them.

Today is Wassily Kandinsky.  He too was deemed by the Nazi's to be a degenerate artist.

The first thing I did was search out some Kandinsky images.  And then I found some good informative sites about him.  He was quite a sociable man.  He was married a few times.  He lived in a few places and even changed his citizenship a few times.  Let's see, yes, he started out as a Russian and then he went to study in Munich and he became a German.  And then just before WWI happened he left Germany and he went to Paris.  He was quite a bit older than Franz Marc.  And quite a bit more experienced in the world and he was an educated and lettered man who gave up being a lawyer and professor to become, I know it... an artist.

Hold on.  I'm feeling that sense of jumping without a parachuet.
The air of freedom whirling past...
all yielded to the flow and
and then bam
its hard to keep focused on your work
and make a living at it.

So I give the man credit.  The specifics I don't need to know.  If anything stands out I'll add it but what I dig the most is that he chose to fly.
Painter Wassily Kandinsky. Odessa. Port. 1898
So there he is, in the upper hemisphere, looking at nature and creating some of the most powerful, elegant work I've ever seen.  I mean Odessa. Port, 1898.  This is amazing.  It has movement and a calm and a dawning and massive wood pieces and smaller ones and the life of the water....  its so beautiful... and not at all what I was expecting.

I had expected to see something more abstract, not necessarily less skillfully done but certainly more cubist in nature.

The Wassily Kandinsky I thought I'd see were more like these
Kochel -- Waterfall was painted two years later, 1900.  It was vibrant and his perspective brilliant.  It pulled me right into the painting.  Not like some formula piece that tricked me to looking at one side of the canvas and moving my lazy ass eye around it but this painting took me in.  Like a breath of fresh air mixed with a winded exhale after a walking down a long path and turning round a curve to see what the rumbling was all about.  Yeah.

 Painter Wassily Kandinsky. Painting. Kochel – Waterfall I. 1900 year   Painter Wassily Kandinsky. Study for sluice. 1901
The painting to the right, Study of sluice was painted in 1901.  I mean this is some amazing work and this was in the beginning of his flight.
There are so many brilliant works of art during his first ten years as an artist.  This one is a must to include.  It is called, "Bei Starngerg - "Winter and it was also painted in 1902.  Oh his brilliance continues.  But these pieces are truly poetry written with a brush.
 Painter Wassily Kandinsky. Painting. Bei Starnberg - Winter. 1902 year

The next ten years his work changes.  It becomes more detached.  It had feeling.  I don't mean it that way.  But they were more mathematical equations.  Symbols and lines and circles and bright colors, mostly.

And then in 1917 things got real quiet.  And they moved and shifted.  And the war seeped into the medium.  And for awhile I think all was nearly lost.  And things became more disconnected.  Less identifiable.

Like ancient Egyptians heiroglyphics.  The meanings attached to these symbols were known only to him and maybe a very select few other.....     This one is called, "Wall Panel (for Edwin R.Campbell's Villa).
Painter Wassily Kandinsky. Wall Panel (for Edwin R. Campbell's villa). 1914This one was painted in 1914.  That's remarkable really.  Sixteen years in and look at how his work has grown. This is another wall panel for Edwin.  Pretty neat.

Painter Wassily Kandinsky. Painting. Wall Panel (for Edwin R. Campbell's villa). 1914 year
 This one was painted in 1916 and it is called, "To the Unknown Voice."  I wonder who was the unknown voice.
 Painter Wassily Kandinsky. Painting. To the Unknown Voice. 1916 year
And check out Gray Oval, done in 1917.  Something had changed.

Painter Wassily Kandinsky. Grey Oval. 1917

And then the war was over.  The war to end all wars finally ended in 1918.  And everyone left, started to pick up the pieces and put it all back together again.

Only hearts were shattered and left with a knowledge that led to uncertainty.  And maybe this was what brought on the disconnection.  That a lot of art expresses to this day.

Landscape with Two Poplars
I had studied "Landscape With Two Poplars" and I think another but the more symbolic pieces I must have walked right by.

I had always associated skill with being able to create something that either made some one think or stirred a feeling in them or something that had a sense of life.  This intrigued me, the a sense of a moment could be captured on the end of a brush and left on some linen or canvas or board or paper for others to see many years later and some how feel connected to was what thrilled me the most about paintings, oils and watercolors.  It was the way they used color and the way they used something invisible with the paint and moved it around with a brush that just did it for me.

So a few sticks, thrown seemingly, haphazrdly probably wouldn't have even slowed my pace all that much.
 Painter Wassily Kandinsky. Transverse Line. 1923Transverse Line , 1923
Painter Wassily Kandinsky. On White II. 1923on left On White II, 1923
       Painter Wassily Kandinsky. Calm Bend. 1925and Calm Bend, 1925

 Painter Wassily Kandinsky. Movement I. 1935
Above "Movement I" was done in 1935.
Whether his work seemed to be all orderly and in place or not
it still whispered and some times screamed.... indifference  And that I dig.
Painter Wassily Kandinsky. Three triangles. 1938
Some times what can't be said directly, or even defined, can come to life through art.  That whole idea blew my mind.  I think that's what I had to figure out. How could water move or a piece of fruit looks so real, even if the details were missing?  And for another ten years I studied.

Because I was a writer.  And a woman.  And art was for men.  And writing was too back then.  My passions would probably never be fulfilled.  But the world had already opened up to me and after that curiosity took a footing it got all fired up and nearly kilned me. Sorry. couldn't resist.

I was to love art and poetry and writing and
express it all of my life and
it would probably never be taken

Yeah, so when that thought occurred to me I figured, so what.  I'm going to buy some paints and just start doin' the damn thing.  I don't need to be great or perfect.  I have the passion.  That's all I need.  The rest will be what it will be.

And maybe
its not for me to say,

So when I look at Kandinsky's work now I think.... here is someone who went from amazing to phenomenal to chartering new ground at such a pace.... not even he could have seen it coming.  And this was back in the early to mid-1900's.  He just went there and let everything else fall where it laid.  And that I respect.  Kandinsky.

Oh, let's see.  Yeah, I guess I use symbols some times in my artwork too.  I never thought about it until after I finished a painting.  Some times they talk to me and tell me what they are about.  This one is an oil on canvas and it is called, "Windhorse."

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