Kandinsky, Artist and Teacher

Centre Pompidou

Kandinsky implemented an original approach when he was invited to teach at the Bauhaus school in Weimar, March 1922. He was inspired by his previous artistic research, as well as unique educational methods that he had already used in Russia at the Vkhutemas school (Higher Art and Technical Studios founded in Moscow in 1920).  

Panel preparation for the Juryfreie Kunstschau (Jury-Free Art Show) in Berlin by students of Bauhaus in Weimar by AnonymousCentre Pompidou

As soon as he arrived in Weimar, where he had accepted the post of form master at the mural painting studio, Kandinsky got to work, dedicating a great deal of time to preparing his lessons. 

He wrote copious lesson notes defining visual laws and creating a science of art. In parallel with his teaching, he offered a course on forms and another on " analytical drawing".

Wassily Kandinsky, J.J.P.Oud and Walter Gropius in Weimar by BoknerCentre Pompidou

Consisting of theoretical seminars complemented by practical exercises, his teaching—as well as that of his friend, Paul Klee — constituted an introduction to image composition as well as the study of nature , applicable to a variety of artisanal disciplines.

Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky in the Bauhaus park in Dessau by AnonymousCentre Pompidou

His theoretical essay, Concerning the Spiritual in Art (1912), remained one of the fundamentals of what he taught his students at the Bauhaus.

Über Das Geistige in der Kunst (Of the Spiritual in Art) by Kandinsky, VassilyCentre Pompidou

Despite his active participation in the school's clear and fundamental objectives driven by Walter Gropius since its foundation in 1923 Kandinsky never stopped exploring. Both in his work and in his teaching he was driven by the concept of artistic autonomy, freed from functionalist and productivist needs.

Gelb-Rot-Blau (Yellow-Red-Blue) by Kandinsky, VassilyCentre Pompidou

In 1927, despite the industrial developments of the time, Kandinsky worked with Paul Klee and was successful in establishing a seminar on free plastic and pictorial creation before the appointment of Hannes Meyer as the new director of the school in Dessau, a proponent of functionalism who sidelined the painters' formalistic approach. 

Hannes Meyer in the Bauhaus garden in Dessau by AnonymousCentre Pompidou

In parallel with their imposed exercises in the studios, the students of the Bauhaus were able to rely on their perceptive faculties with a spiritualistic approach to the creative process, thanks to Kandinsky's recognised role as an exceptional educator. 

"Staatliches Bauhaus, Weimar", basic colour and shape questionnaires for students of the Weimar Bauhaus by Kandinsky, VassilyCentre Pompidou

At the Bauhaus, a fertile period for Kandinsky, he managed to juggle his duties as an educator, his artistic practice and his writing and theoretical work. In 1926, he writes his second major theoretical work  Point and Line to Plane.   

Drawing for Point and Line on Plan by Kandinsky, VassilyCentre Pompidou

Kandinsky's manuscripts and teaching materials from the Bauhaus are currently available for researchers to consult at the Pompidou Center (the Kandinsky Fund of the Kandinsky Library) and the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. 

Drawing for Point and Line on Plan by Kandinsky, VassilyCentre Pompidou

The artist's teaching notes, kept by Kandinsky in a large chest in the basement of his Neuilly-sur-Seine studio and which suffered water damage from the flooding of the River Seine, document his activities:   those of the mural art studio, his analytical drawing lessons, the specific painting lessons, as well as his conference material and his atlas of images that he used for his lessons and conferences. (1922 – 1933). 

Wassily Kandinsky in his studio in Neuilly-sur-Seine by Lipnitzki, BernardCentre Pompidou

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