Wassily Kandinsky (Moscow, 1866 – Neuilly-sur-Seine, 1944) was a French-Russian painter, forerunner and founder of the Abstractionism. Influenced at the beginning by Expressionism, in 1910 he already reached the abstract style with First abstract watercolour (1910) in which it is visible his will to ab-strahere, to extract the formal essentiality of life with aesthetic and emotional compositions, sharing this aim with Piet Mondrian. In 1911, together with the painter and friend Franz Marc, Kandinsky founded Der Blaue Reiter – The Blue Rider. This movement, whose roots have to be found more in the newspaper which had the same name rather than in a planned artistic trend, has an evident transcendent guideline based on spirituality, so much that in 1912 Kandinsky published On the Spiritual in Art, in which he theorized the connection between shape an color that would be the basis of Abstract art. According to the artists of Der Blaue Reiter, there was no difference between sentiment, shape and colour, since they share the same importance in order to express a further reality made of feelings and perceptions going beyond figuration. His first solo show was at the Der Sturm gallery in Berlin, where he presented his Improvisations (Picture with a black arch, 1912), that would have later become the famous ten Compositions. Kandinsky used to choose his works' titles from musical terminology, making them one of the keys for the interpretation of his abstract art. His vibrant colours, sometimes reaching the frame (for example, Study for “Composition II”, 1910), show a world beyond reality and become a mirror of the progressive change in the vision of reality started from Impressionism and that will be the base for the Avant-Garde's researches.
At the beginning of World War I he returned to Moscow, where he held public positions in the art fields and where he took part to the ferment preceding the October revolution. In 1921 he accepted the invitation to teach at the Bauhaus institute in Weimar, received from Walter Gropius. During this experience he became friend with Paul Klee (who would later be introduced to Robert Delaunay with a well known letter written by Kandinsky himself) and he wrote his essay Point and Line to Plane (1926). He also worked as mural decoration teacher until 1933, when the Nazi Regime closed the Bauhaus Institute. Kandinsky's appeal to his old friend Tommaso Marinetti to use his influences in Germany in order to change this decision was totally useless. The artist sought refuge in France with his wife Nina, where he continued to work using small size cardboards (e.g. Delicate Tensions, 1942), easier to find and to handle than the big canvases he used to work with, but he also completed the Compositions series (Composition IX, 1939). In 1935 the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art hosted his first solo show in the United States, testifying Kandinsky's international success even during his lifetime.
His large paintings are part of several international museum collections, including Hermitage in St Petersburg, Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, and are located also in the most important American museums, such as the Art Institute of Chicago, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington. In Italy his work can be admired at the GNAM - Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea in Rome, the Museo Ca' Pesaro in Venice and at the Gallerie di Palazzo Leoni Montanari in Vicenza.
His painting Bild mit weissen linien (Painting with white lines, 1913) was sold at Sotheby's in London in 2017 for £ 33,008,750.