Saturday, January 21, 2012

Theory and Practice

The little book by Wassily Kandinsky "Concerning the Spiritual in Art" was written in 1909 and first published in 1912.
Only eight chapters, the essay is dense, bubbling with ideas. The artist who was also a founder of the movement Der Blaue Reiter was the intellectual of the group.

I read the book, written in Russian and German, in French. The style is outmoded with long-winded sentences but the content is revolutionary. Not only about the spiritual in art, it also lays out a theory of abstract art.

The author discusses how the artist becomes the link between the crowd and the spiritual, and his subsequent loneliness on top of the triangle, with the crowd at the bottom.

In the longest chapter, he describes the theory of colors and shapes. Of course, the artist was not alone in his search, he was influenced by other artists and philosophers. He also inspired generations to come. It is a testimony of the intellectual life at the time. Kandinsky develops a grammar for the artists and brings parallels with music. Synesthesia was one of his favorite theory.

He brings back art to a spiritual function. Art creates a spiritual atmosphere and promotes meditation. Art does not only stimulate the senses but also the soul.

The book is full of great quotes. Here are a few:

"The artist must not only train his eye, but also his soul"

"Is beautiful what proceeds from an inner necessity of the soul. Is beautiful what is inwardly beautiful."

"The artist must have something to say, mastery over forms is not his goal but adaptation of form to its inner meaning."

photographs Wikipedia Commons:

Wassily Kandinsky

"Der Blaue Reiter" Wassily Kandinsky, 1903

"On White II" Wassily Kandinsky, 1923

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