Even before Wassily Kandinsky was appointed as master of the mural painting workshop at the Bauhaus, he was already one of the great artists of the modern movement. Kandinsky steadily honed his unmistakable personal style. For young people with talent, his name was often reason enough to attempt the Bauhaus experiment.

Portrait of Wassily Kandinsky, photo: Hugo Erfurth, 1925–1928. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin / © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016.
Portrait of Wassily Kandinsky, photo: Hugo Erfurth, 1925–1928. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin / © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016.

Wassily Kandinsky began studying law and economics in Moscow in 1886, completing his studies with the state examination in 1892. In 1896, he relocated to Munich to attend Anton Azbè’s private art school there. In 1900, he studied at the art academy in Munich and was one of Franz von Stuck’s students. A year later, Kandinsky became co-founder of the artists’ association Phalanx. In 1904, his works were exhibited for the first time at the Salon d'Automne (autumn salon) in Paris. In 1909, he co-founded the Neue Künstlervereinigung München (new artists’ association of Munich). He created his first abstract composition in 1910; one year later, his groundbreaking book Concerning the Spiritual in Art was published. In 1911, he also produced the almanac Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) with Franz Marc. When war broke out, he initially fled to Switzerland and then returned to Moscow. Among other positions, he was the vice president of GACHN (formerly the Russian academy of the science of arts), developed programmes for INCHUK (Institute for artistic culture), was the co-organiser and director of the MSCHK (museum of painterly culture) and taught at the Russian state art and technical school, Vkhutemas.

Small Worlds, author: Wassily Kandinsky, 1922. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin / © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016.
Small Worlds, author: Wassily Kandinsky, 1922. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin / © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016.

In June 1922, Walter Gropius appointed Wassily Kandinsky to the Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar, where he taught until its closure in Berlin in 1933. From 1922 to 1925, he directed the wall painting workshop at the Bauhaus Weimar and taught classes on abstract form elements and analytical drawing in the preliminary course. In 1924, Kandinsky founded the artists’ association Die Blaue Vier (The Blue Four) group together with Alexej Jawlensky, Paul Klee and Lyonel Feininger.

Black Relationship, author: Wassily Kandinsky, 1924. The Museum of Modern Art, New York / © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016.
Black Relationship, author: Wassily Kandinsky, 1924. The Museum of Modern Art, New York / © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016.

At the Bauhaus in Dessau, he taught abstract form elements and analytical drawing in the preliminary course from 1925 to 1932. From the winter semester of 1926-27, he was the head of painting and from 1927, he directed the free painting workshop and free painting class. In 1926, he published the important Bauhaus book Point and Line to Plane. From 1932 to 1933 at the Bauhaus in Berlin, he was head of the preliminary course classes in abstract form elements and analytical drawing and of the free painting class. In 1933, Kandinsky emigrated to Paris and lived there in the suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine until his death.

 

Taut at an Angle, author: Wassily Kandinsky, 1930. Kunstmuseum Bern, Stiftung Othmar Huber / © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016.
Taut at an Angle, author: Wassily Kandinsky, 1930. Kunstmuseum Bern, Stiftung Othmar Huber / © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016.

References:
Antonova, Irina & Jörn Merkert (1995): Berlin–Moskau. Moskau–Berlin 1900–1950, Munich/New York.
Benesch, Evelyn & Ingried Brugger (2004): Wassily Kandinsky. Der Klang der Farbe. 1900–1921, Bad Breisig.
Friedel, Helmut (2008): Kandinsky. Absolut abstrakt, Munich.
Moeller, Magdalena M. (1994): Der frühe Kandinsky 1900–1910, Munich.
Stephan, Erik (2009): Kandinsky am Bauhaus. Punkt und Linie zu Fläche, Jena.
Wagner, Christoph (2005): Das Bauhaus und die Esoterik. Johannes Itten, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Bielefeld.