Kandinsky was born on 4 December 1866. Kandinsky’s started out as a musician, but at the age 20 he went to Moscow University to study law and economics, during this time he made his first contact with the ancient art of Russia.
In an article written by Kandinsky in ‘Der Sturm’ (Berlin), 1913, he gives his definition of a work of art:
‘ A work of art consists of two elements, the inner and the outer. The inner is the emotion in the soul of the artist; this emotion has the capacity to evoke a similar emotion in the observer.
Being connected with the body, the soul is affected through the medium of the senses– the felt. Emotions are aroused and stirred by what is sensed. Thus the sensed is the bridge, i.e. the physical relation the immaterial (which is the artist’s emotion) and the material, which results in a work of art. And again, what is sensed is the bridge from the material (the artist and his work) to the immaterial (the emotion in the soul of the observer).
The sequence is: emotion (in the artist)® the sensed® the art work® the sensed® emotion (in the observer).
The two emotions will be like and equivalent to the extent that the work of art is successful. In this respect painting is in no way different from a song: each is communication….
The inner element, i.e. the emotion, must exist; otherwise the work of art is a sham. The inner element determines the form of the work of art.’ (cited by Read 1998)
This definition of ‘the work of art’ is probably based on comparison of painting and sculpture to music, which was Kandinsky’s first art. Kandinsky argues that form and colour in themselves are the parts which make a language which express emotion; ‘that just as musical sound acts directly on the soul, so do form and colour.’ (Read, 1998). These forms can be abstract, rather than material objects.
Think of a painting, like you think about a piece of music. Music changes in the context it is played, just like a painting. Music live in a big concert hall, or a recording played on a personnel stereo on the train. An exhibition in a large exhibition space, or a colour poster on the bedroom door. But whatever the context of the music or painting, they can have a great effect on you.
Wassily Kandinsky, ‘Composition No. 2’, 1910
Wassily Kandinsky, ‘Composition VIII‘, 1923