Kandinsky & Russia
8 March – 30 June ,
Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium
One of the founding fathers of abstract art, the Russian painter, Wassily Kandinsky, is returning to Brussels, 100 years after his last exhibition in May 1913.
The exhibition has over 150 works, but Kandinsky provides a third of all the paintings on show. They show the artistic and intellectual complexity of a true genius who drew inspiration at the same time from the Russian symbolist movement, Greek culture, German metaphysics, orthodox spirituality and esotericism.
The other works include popular art works and paintings by Larionov and Malévitch.
Apart from being credited with producing the first abstract painting, ‘Painting with circle’ in 1911, the artist became a European figure.
Born in Moscow in 1866, it was 30 years before he began studying art in Munich, leaving behind a career in teaching law and economice. As a student, Kandanski excelled.
In 1914, the artist returned to Russia, and collaborated in art education and museum reform, but he concentrated on teaching art. His spiritual views, influenced by Helena Blavatsky and the Theosophical Society, who were enthusiasts of the occult and eastern religions, and artistic leanings towards expressionism and the abstract, brought him into conflict with the political forces in power.
In 1921, he accepted an invitation to teach at the Bauhaus, where he taught the basic design class for beginners and the course on advanced theory. His theories deepened and he took a greater interest in geometric forms.
“Everything starts from a dot,” he said.
Kandinsky was one of Die Blaue Vier (Blue Four), formed in 1923 with Klee, Feininger and von Jawlensky, which lectured and exhibited in the United States in 1924. Due to right-wing hostility, the Bauhaus left Weimar and settled in Dessau in 1925. Following a Nazi smear campaign the Bauhaus left Dessau in 1932 for Berlin, until its dissolution in July 1933. Kandinsky then left Germany, settling in Paris.
In 1936 and 1939 he painted his two last major compositions, the type of elaborate canvases he had not produced for many years.
In Kandinsky’s work some characteristics are obvious, while certain touches are more discrete and veiled; they reveal themselves only progressively to those who deepen their connection with his work. He intended his forms (which he subtly harmonized and placed) to resonate with the observer‘s soul.
Kandansky also had the disapproval of Germany’s own political extremists, the Nazis, who raided the Bauhaus in the 1930s resulted in the confiscation of Kandinsky‘s first three Compositions. They were displayed in the State-sponsored exhibit „Degenerate Art“, and then destroyed (along with works by Paul Klee, Franz Marc and other modern artists).
Composition VII, the artist said, is his most complex work, the first seven in this series were loosely based on apocalypse, He made over thirty preparation drawings before finishing the painting in just four days, but it is considered to be his greatest achievement. Art experts have noted the central form, almost like a hurricane, with form and shape in its wake. It’s said that the work contains themes and references to the resurrection, final judgement, the deluge and garden of Eden.
It is remarkable and… in Brussels.
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