Artwork of the month by Wassily Kandinsky

10January 2007

Kandinsky is and always has been my biggest influence in abstract art (aside from Caravaggio).  I have read everything he wrote attentively.  I have traveled to museums simply to view his works of art.  I have visited the Guggenheim in New York 17 times to spend only a few hours in front of “Composition #8,” his finest work. I studied his life, his works, and his impact so completely that I feel as if I knew him personally.

I can conclude that I truly admire his work, but I would never have liked him as a person.  Kandinsky was a spoiled rich kid infused with the misguided plight of privilege.  Albeit, his works of art and his thesis are more insightful than any artist in our recorded history. Bold statement, yes it is, and I stand by it.

I have been studying this painting periodically since 1996 at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

Wassily Kandinsky
Russian, 1866-1944
“Study for Improvisation V”
1910, oil on pulp board.

Kandinsky painted on both sides of the work.  It was a common practice for artists of the early 1900s to paint on both sides of fiber board, and then split them up and sell them as separate pieces.  I have painted on both sides of a canvas several times.  The sibling to this painting is in a private collection as far as I know.  I have only seen it in person once (in 2005), when the two paintings were exhibited together for the first time.

“Two Riders and Reclining Figure”
1910, oil on pulp board.

So the original paintings, “Two Riders and Reclining Figure” and “Study for improvisation V,” were separated until 2005 when exhibited as “Kandinsky: A Relationship Revealed” at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.  The money tier made a huge international deal about how amazing this was and how great to have the two works reunited again, even if for only a moment.  The reality is that Kandinsky was poor at the time he painted these works and it wasn’t because he wanted the extra money from a double sale for the cost of one…it was because he had to paint no matter what the consequences.  Historians, curators, directors, and investors love the tales but lack the understanding that an artist has about another artist.  

“The artist must have something to say, for mastery over form is not his goal but rather the adapting of form to its inner meaning.” 
-Wassily Kandinsky.