1900–1907: Formative Years and Travels

Centre Pompidou

Errinnerung an Venedig 4 (Ponte Rialto) (Memory of Venice 4 (Rialto Bridge)) (1904) by Kandinsky, VassilyCentre Pompidou

Vassily Kandinsky (1866–1944)

Russian painter, naturalized German, and then French, citizen. 
Known as a pioneer of abstract art, and for his theories on a spiritual approach to art and " inner necessity," Kandinsky approached form in a profoundly experimental way throughout his life.

Sinthesi Stencil Sinthesi StencilCentre Pompidou

His conception of a new and immediate relationship between the artist and the spectator, as well as that of a total art, paved the way for 20th and 21st century art.

Portrait of Wassily Kandinsky as a child Portrait of Wassily Kandinsky as a child (c. 1871) by Raoult, J. X.Centre Pompidou

1900–1907: Formative Years and Travels

Kandinsky was born in Moscow in 1866 to a well-to-do, cultured family. He was 30 years old when, in 1896, having successfully studied law and economics at the University of Moscow, he decided to focus on painting and went to Munich to study.

Portrait of Wassily Kandinsky aged 19 Portrait of Wassily Kandinsky aged 19 (1885) by Thiele & OpitzCentre Pompidou

Among other things, this late choice of vocation was due to a revelation Kandinsky had in front of one of Monet's Haystacks during a French art exhibition in Moscow in 1895: a painting does not have to depict an object.

Wassily Kandinsky on a street in Munich (c. 1905) by AnonymousCentre Pompidou

In Munich, Kandinsky would break away from the academic institution. Along with some other artists, he founded the  Phalanx group and an art school. There he met the artist Gabriele Münter who would be his partner until the start of the Great War. 

Nina von Andreevsky and a young girl in Saint Mark's Square in Venice (c. 1913) by AnonymousCentre Pompidou

Not yet divorced from his cousin Ania, he travelled with Münter through Europe and Northern Africa, and in 1906 they lived in Paris for a year. His small-format landscapes show his wandering neo-impressionism.

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