Wassily Kandinsky

Born: 1866, Moscow
Died: 1944, Neuilly-sur-Seine (near Paris)

Painter, graphic artist, theatrical designer, art theorist, writer. Distant relative of Nikolai Bodarevsky. Descended from an old Manchurian family who were persecuted by the Qing dynasty and moved to Buryatia in eastern Siberia, where they married people from the banks of the River Konda known as “Kondinsky” (late 17th century). Born to Vasily Kandinsky and his wife Lydia in a house on Chistoprudny Boulevard in Moscow and christened at the Church of St Nicholas in Khlynovo (1866). Taken to Italy with his parents (1869), who divorced when he was aged five (1871). Moved with his father to Odessa (1871), where he lived at 14 De Ribas Street and studied at classical grammar school (1876–85). Enrolled at the Faculty of Law of Moscow University (1885), but dropped out for three years and took part in an ethnographic expedition to Vologda Province (1889). Graduated and married his cousin Anna Chemyakina (1893). Worked at the Kushnerev Printing Works and the Abrikosov Chocolate Factory (1895). Moved to Munich (1896), where he studied at Anton Ažbè’s school of art (1897) and under Franz von Stuck at the Königliche Akademie der Künste (1900–01). Founded the Phalanx school of theosophy and art and spent the summer in Akhtyrka near Moscow (1901). Returned to Munich and met Gabriele Münter (1902). Travelled across Germany, Italy and Austria and visited Odessa and Moscow (1903). Divorced his wife Anna and travelled across Holland, Tunisia, Italy and France with Gabriele Münter (1904–07). Passed through periods of interest in Impressionism (1898–1906), Biedermeier (1901–05), Old Russia (1901–07), Middle Ages (1902–07), Symbolism (1905–08) and Expressionism (1908). Collaborated with the World of Art (1902) and Apollo (1909–10) magazines. Lived with Gabriele Münter in the village of Murnau in the Bavarian Alps (1908–11), where he painted his first abstract works (1910–11). Cofounded the Neue Künstlervereinigung München with Alexei von Jawlensky, Gabriele Münter, Marianne von Werefkin, Adolf Erbslöh, Alexander Kanoldt and Vladimir von Bechtejeff and was elected chairman (1909), but resigned after Composition V (The Last Judgement) was rejected on the grounds that it was too large (190 x 275 cm) and broke the exhibition rules – a rule ironically introduced by the artist himself (1911). Founded Der blaue Reiter with Franz Marc (1911) and published the almanac of the same name (1912). Wrote and published such books as Über das Geistige in der Kunst (1911), Klänge (1913), Rückblicke (1913) and Punkt mund Linie zu Fläche (1926). Returned to Russia at the start of the First World War (1914) and lived in Moscow (1915–16). Married Nina Andriyevskaya and spent the summer in Akhtyrka near Moscow (1917). Worked for IZO Narkompros and taught at the State Free Art Studios/VKhUTEMAS (1918–19). Founding member and academic secretary of the Museum of Painterly Culture in Moscow (1919–20). Director of the Institute of Artistic Culture and professor of Moscow University (1920), vice-president of the Russian Academy of Artistic Sciences (1921). Travelled with his wife Nina to Germany to establish cultural ties with the Russian Academy of Artistic Sciences (1921). Invited to teach at the Bauhaus in Weimar (1922–24). Published a portfolio of graphic works entitled Kleine Welten (1923). Founded Die blaue Vier with Alexei von Jawlensky, Paul Klee and Lyonel Feininger (1924). Moved to Dessau with the Bauhaus (1925–32). Adopted German citizenship (1928). Designed the sets for a performance of Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition in Dessau (1928–29). Travelled across Italy, Egypt, Palestine, Turkey and Greece (1930–31). Emigrated to Paris after the closure of the Bauhaus in Dessau (1932) and Berlin (1933). Settled in Neuilly-sur-Seine (1933) and adopted French citizenship (1939). Continued to work despite illness (1940–44) and held his last one-man show in Paris (1941). Died in Neuilly-sur-Seine and buried at the Cimetière Nouveau de Neuilly (1944). Contributed to exhibitions (from 1898). Contributed to the exhibitions of the Fellowship of South Russian Artists in Odessa (1898–1910), Moscow Fellowship of Artists (1900–08), Phalanx in Munich (1901–04), Berlin Sezession (1902–08), New Society of Artists (1904–06), Salon d’Automne (1904–10), Salon des Indépendants (1907–12), Sergei Makovsky Salon (1909), Knave of Diamonds (1910, 1912), Second Vladimir Izdebsky Salon (1910–11), Donkey’s Tail (1912) , 1915 (1915), Neue Künstlervereinigung München (1909–10), Der blaue Reiter in Munich (1911–12, 1914), Erster Deutscher Herbstsalon and Der Sturm at Herwarth Walden’s Galerie der Sturm in Berlin (1913), Modern Art (1913), Die neue Kunst (1914), V State Exhibition: From Impressionism to Non-Objectivity at the Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow (1918–19), World of Art (1921), Die erste russische Kunstausstellung in Berlin (1922), Die blaue Vier in Munich, Dresden, Hamburg, Berlin, Helsinki, Warsaw, Rome, Paris and the United States (from 1924), Abstract & Concrete in London (1936), Cubism and Abstract Art in New York (1936), Thèse, Antithèse, Synthèse in Lucerne(1935), Entartete Kunst in Munich (1937) and the international exhibitions in Amsterdam (1913), New York (1913), Malmö (1914) and Paris (1925). One-man shows in Berlin (1912), Munich (1914), Cologne (1914), Stockholm (1915–16), Dessau/Berlin/Dresden (1926–27), New York (1936, 1939, 1943), Paris (1936–44) and London (1938).

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