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Wassily Kandinsky: Twice Foreign

By Amanda Heath

Wassily Kandinsky was born in Moscow, Russia, in 1866. Kandinsky became one of the first completely non-objective painters, but he began his career in law before he transitioned into the world of art. Kandinsky left law and Russia in 1896, and he moved to Munich, Germany, and studied painting. Although he volunteered to leave Russia, the existing social unrest, poor living conditions, and censorship set by an inconsistent government was not inviting to the creativity and innovative work that Kandinsky wished to pursue. A member of the Russian Orthodox faith, Kandinsky kept this faith throughout his life, and he integrated other aspects of his Russian heritage into his work. Russian folk art, Christian mythology, and music were key influences in the development of his painting and theories. In addition to this, the Theosophical movement became a major source of inspiration for Kandinsky’s non-objective work that rejected materialism and pushed for spiritual truth. A foreigner in Germany, Kandinsky was alienated from most of society, by personal choice, on more than one level. His alienation, however, proved positive in the successful creation of major theories and ideologies related to the spiritual in art.

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