The father of abstract modern art, Wassily Kandinsky gave up his career as a law professor to study painting at the age of 30.
In university, the Russian art theorist studied law and economics. First living in Germany, and teaching at the famed Bauhaus school of art and architecture, Kandinsky later settled in France. His work was informed by his interest and studies in a multitude of subjects including colour symbolism, psychology, music theory, philosophy, spirituality, and Orthodox Christianity.
He is famed for his abstract paintings that experiment with both form, colour, and perspective. In 1912 he published the seminal Concerning the Spiritual in Art. The artist died in 1944 at the age of 77. His paintings have sold at auction for upwards of 25 million dollars.
Kandinsky saw the world in a multiple of layers. Lyrically and poetically he expressed his deeply held beliefs about perception, and art.
Here are 21 quotes from Wassily Kandinsky to nourish your soul.
“This feeble light is but a presentiment, and the soul, when it sees it, trembles in doubt whether the light is not a dream, and the gulf of darkness reality.” ― Wassily Kandinsky
“Lend your ears to music, open your eyes to painting, and… stop thinking! Just ask yourself whether the work has enabled you to ‘walk about’ into a hitherto unknown world. If the answer is yes, what more do you want?” ― Wassily Kandinsky
“The artist must train not only his eye but also his soul.” ― Wassily Kandinsky
“Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the harmonies, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul.” ― Wassily Kandinsky
“Every work of art is the child of its age and, in many cases, the mother of our emotions. It follows that each period of culture produces an art of its own which can never be repeated.” ― Wassily Kandinsky
“An empty canvas is a living wonder… far lovelier than certain pictures.” ― Wassily Kandinsky
“With few exceptions, music has been for some centuries the art which has devoted itself not to the reproduction of natural phenomena, but rather to the expression of the artist’s soul, in musical sound.” ― Wassily Kandinsky
“There is no must in art because art is free.” ― Wassily Kandinsky
“To create a work of art is to create the world.” ― Wassily Kandinsky
“The spirit, like the body, can be strengthened and developed by frequent exercise. Just as the body, if neglected, grows weaker and finally impotent, so the spirit perishes if untended.” ― Wassily Kandinsky
“The nightmare of materialism, which has turned the life of the universe into an evil, useless game, is not yet past; it holds the awakening soul still in its grip.” ― Wassily Kandinsky
“Those [things] that we encounter for the first time immediately have a spiritual effect upon us. A child, for whom every object is new, experiences the world in this way: it sees light, is attracted by it, wants to grasp it, burns its finger in the process, and thus learns fear and respect for the flame.” ― Wassily Kandinsky
“That is beautiful which is produced by the inner need, which springs from the soul.” ― Wassily Kandinsky
“Everything that is dead quivers. Not only the things of poetry, stars, moon, wood, flowers, but even a white trouser button glittering out of a puddle in the street… Everything has a secret soul, which is silent more often than it speaks.” ― Wassily Kandinsky
“The true work of art is born from the ‘artist’: a mysterious, enigmatic, and mystical creation. It detaches itself from him, it acquires an autonomous life, becomes a personality, an independent subject, animated with a spiritual breath, the living subject of a real existence of being.” ― Wassily Kandinsky
“Music is the ultimate teacher.” ― Wassily Kandinsky
“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
“The artist must be blind to “recognized” and “unrecognized” form, deaf to the teachings and desires of his time. His open eyes must be directed to his inner life and his ears must be constantly attuned to the voice of inner necessity.” ― Wassily Kandinsky
“To those that are not accustomed to it the inner beauty appears as ugliness because humanity in general inclines to the outer and knows nothing of the inner.” ― Wassily Kandinsky
“Of all the arts, abstract painting is the most difficult. It demands that you know how to draw well, that you have a heightened sensitivity for composition and for colors, and that you be a true poet. This last is essential.” ― Wassily Kandinsky
“The joy of life consists in the inevitable, continual triumph of new values.” ― Wassily Kandinsky
Author: Tara Collum
Tara Collum lives in Toronto and grew up in Muskoka. She is the co-creator of a forthcoming web serial about twins in a small town. She believes it is never too late to be the person you are meant to be. Follow Tara on twitter @99percentsun