A pioneer of abstract art and eminent aesthetic theorist, Vasily Kandinsky (b. 1866, Moscow; d. 1944, Neuilly-sur-Seine, France) broke new ground in painting during the first decades of the twentieth century. His seminal treatise Über das Geistige in der Kunst (On the Spiritual in Art), published in Munich in December 1911, lays out his program for developing an art independent from observations of the external world. In this and other texts, as well as his work, Kandinsky advanced abstraction’s potential to be free from nature, a quality of music that he admired. The development of a new subject matter based solely on the artist’s “inner necessity” would occupy him for the rest of his life.
This presentation of select works from the Guggenheim collection traces Kandinsky’s aesthetic evolution: his early beginnings in Munich at the start of the century, the return to his native Moscow with the outbreak of World War I, his interwar years in Germany as a teacher at the Bauhaus, and his final chapter in Paris.