Wassily Kandinsky (December 4, 1866 - December 13, 1944) was a Russian-born painter and a pioneer in the development of modern abstract art.
Kandinsky was born in Moscow, Russia, to a well-to-do family. His father came from a Siberian town near China, and his mother from Moscow; a great-grandmother was a Mongolian princess. After studying law and economics and becoming a university professor, at age thirty he decided to quit school, and moved to Munich, Germany to become an artist.
Acquaintances remember Kandinsky as resembling a mixture of scientist, diplomat, and Mongol prince. He was a large, tall man who was always well-dressed and wore pince-nez glasses. Already interested in Russian folk art, in Munich he was influenced by Impressionism, Pointillism, and by the bold, unrealistic color of Fauvism. In the few years after 1900 he exhibited his paintings in a variety of European shows.
By 1909 his work began to show signs of artistic growth as his influences coalesced into a style that was purely abstract. His goal was to dispense with depicting recognizable objects and use lines, shapes, and colors to create a visual language that evokes deep emotions and expresses general ideas. His nonrepresentation evolution can be seen from Blue Mountain (1908), to the beginnings of a composition explosion in Landscape with Steeple (1909), to practically abstract with Improvisation XIV (1910). Some art historians believe his artistic peak was reached between 1912 and 1914 with paintings such as With the Black Arch and Black Lines, which were both very dramatic in style.
When Kandinsky was fifty, he married Nina Andreevskaya in 1917 and, by all accounts, had a happy marriage. In 1922 he became an art professor for a time at the famous Bauhaus school in Weimar, Germany. From around 1920-24, he went through his architectural period where color is more subdued and shapes are more precise, as in Composition VIII (1923). His romantic period lasted from 1927-33, where soft color was used with abundant pictorial signs, as shown in Between the Light (1931). In his last artistic phase he intellectually synthesized all of his previous artistic changes, which led to work such as Dominant Curve, Violet Dominant, Tempered Ian, and Fifteen.
In 1944 Kandinsky died in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, having profoundly influenced twentieth century art.