Wassily Kandinsky




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Born Dec 4 in Moscow.


Bought a set of paints in Odessa and painted while he was a student.


Student of jurisprudence and political economy. In his painting he became frustrated with the subject. Two major events in his life: Monet’s Haystack which came to Moscow in an exhibit of French Impressionism and hearing Wagner’s Lohengrim. He realized he did not need to remain "true" to the subject matter. Still not willing to commit to painting. Before this he had only know Russian Realist painting.


Becomes a lawyer


Turns down a faculty of law appointment with the University of Tartu


Moves to Munich to become a painter. Had previously managed an art printing works.


Studies at Anton Azbi’s until 1899. Meets Jawlensky. Did more painting at home and outdoors than in Anton’s studio with among the students and models.


Application to Struck’s class rejected and he spent a year studying on his own.


Studied under Struck at Munich Academy. Paul Klee was there at the same time but they did not become familiar. Munich is the center of Jugendstil.


Co founds Phalanx. Succumbs to Jugendstil.


Meets Gabriele Munter, his girlfriend. Shows his woodcuts at exhibitions of the Berlin Secession. President of the Phalanx group.


Became engaged to Munter even though he was still married.

Sets out traveling for five years in Europe with Munter. Visits Venice in 03, Tunis in 04-05 for four months, in Dresden the summer of 05, Rapallo four months 05-06, Sevres June 06-June 07, Berlin Sept 07-April 08.

Exhibits with the Salon d’Automne and Salon des Independants from 04 to 08 and the 2nd Der Brucke exhibit 06-07 in Dresden.

Taught at the Phalanx School. Abandons the group in 04. Also taught a class of decorative painting at Düsseldorf Kunstgewerbeschule.

Won medals in Paris 04 and 05. On the jury of the Salon d’Automne, 06 he won a Grand Prix.


Moved from Fauve landscapes to abstraction, pivotal works in 1910-1 for 20th century painting: Murnau – The Garden II, Sketch for Composition II, Angel of Last Judgement.


Back in Munich, he takes the summer in Murnau with Jawlensky, Munter and Werefkin.


Bought a house in Murnau. Named Cezanne, Matisse, Picasso as main influences.

Founds Die Neue Kunstleruereinigung, The New Artists Alliance. With the purpose to ‘organize art exhibitions in Germany and abroad, and of reinforcing their effect by lectures, publications and similar means.’ Members: Jawlensky, Werefkin, Kandinsky (pres), Munter, Kanoldt and Erbsloh. By the end of the year six more had joined including a dancer. In 1910 two Frenchmen join. Alfred Kubin took part in exhibitions as a guest. They had an exhibit in 1909 and 1910 at the Thannhauser gallery and then toured several German towns. Both exhibitions met with repudiation on tour. Got the attention of August Macke and Franz Marc who were also in Munich.

In the next few years Kandinsky reaches Expressionist abstraction. See quotes in 1. on page 110-112.


Friendship with Franz Marc. Wrote Uber das Geistige m der Kunst.


Leaves Die Neue Kunstleruereinigung with Marc. Dec 18th: Kandinsky, Marc and Munter exhibit at the Thannhauser gallery as the Editors of The Blue Rider. This ran concurrently with the New Artist’s Alliance exhibition. Marc wrote to Macke "We are staunch and true and in rather a champagne mood." It was a haphazard exhibition with 43 works including Henri Rousseau, Albert Bloch, the Bruljuk brothers, Campendonk, Macke, and Delaunay. The exhibit showed until Jan 3rd and then toured Germany. Opened in Berlin in March at the first Sturm exhibition. Other works there by Klee, Kubin, Jawlensky, and Werefkin.


Moves to Switzerland and later moves back to Moscow. Separates from Munter when he moves to Russia I believe.


Member Commissariat for Popular Enlightenment. Tutuor at Moscow Academy.


Tutor at Moscow University


Moves to Berlin.


Teacher at Bauhaus in Weimer.


Moves to Paris.


Declared a ‘degenerate.’


Dies 13 December at Nevilly-sur-Seine.



1. The Expressionists. Wolf-Dieter Dube, trans by Mary Whittall. Thames and Hudson 1972.
2. The Royal Academy of Art. Derain to Kandinsky: Masters of Colour. London, 2000.