Improvisation by Kandinsky is expression of inner processes that occurs suddenly, mostly unconsciously. It is the effect of "inner nature."
"Painting seemed to me to be endowed with a marvellous power; and, without my being aware of this, even the subject, regarded as an indispensable part of painting, had begun to lose its importance for me”, Kandinsky.
Kandinsky was more than thirty years old and had a complete legal education behind him when he came to Germany and began to paint. It is true that, from the years of his childhood and adolescence, he had found himself drawn, mysteriously, towards painting. His biography "Backward Glances' tells us of the extraordinarily powerful impression which certain colours made on him from a very early age. His native Moscow, with its marvellous light on sunny days, when for a brief hour all the colours seemed to come alive excited his imagination and in his spare time he made unsuccessful attempts to capture this effect in painting. The young lawyer was impressed by the power of Rembrandt's chiaroscuro and, lis tening to the music of Wagner, he was stirred by forces which evoked in him visual impressions; he saw Lohengrin’ for the first time and recorded his reactions as follows: I could see all my colours, as they came to life before my eyes. In wild disorder and profusion, they drew them selves in my mind No less extreme were his reactions in front of a painting which he had an opportunity to admire at the exhibition of Impressionists in Moscow a Haystack by Claude Monet. "Before this wrote Kandinsky, "I only knew realistic painting and indeed mainly the Russians. And, then, suddenly, for the first time, I saw a real picture. I did not realise that it represented a haystack until I read it in the catalogue. The fact that I failed to recognise the subject made me ponder; it seemed to me that a painter had no right to paint in such an obscure fashion. I felt in a puzzled way that the painting had no subject and was both surprised and bewildered to note not only that the work had great fascination but that it remained fixed indelibly in my memory down to its smallest detail. But all this was still very confused in my mind and I was unable to draw the logical conclusions from it. The one thing that was clear to me was the intensity of the colour, an intensity which I had never even thought possible, which was a complete revelation to me..
...Painting seemed to me to be en dowed with a marvellous power; and, without my being aware of this, even the subject, regarded as an indis pensable part of painting, had begun to lose its importance for me"
With these experiences and ideas Kandinsky arrived at Munich; he was searching for a point of departure from which to realise his pictorial ambitions, but the lessons of Anton Azbé and those of the Academy proved quite unsuited to his ideals. He painted from the model exercised eye and hand, underwent until 1908 the in fluences of many different stylistic tendencies, from the traditional academic naturalism of Munich to art nouveau to the numerous and varied ideas absorbed in the course of his travels. And if, in these years, some of his works are remarkable only for the mastery of their execution, in others an individual note is already apparent. There are landscapes in which freshness of observation is combined with swiftness of execution works of unusual intensity which are worthy to be termed examples of a "Monumental Impressionism'. On the other hand, there are poetic compositions, with a ballet-like rhythm, that depict the life of Russia long ago, romantic villages and mediaeval knights, which recall the fairy tales of his childhood. Sometimes the colouring in tempera on a dark ground attains a chromatic intensity which already foreshadows the works of his maturity; and yet all these early works, despite their interesting features, are no more than a timid prelude to the much greater artistic activity upon which he began to embark in 1908 Kandinsky's first stay at Murnau marked the beginning of a period of development which led to the attainment of results which were complete innovations. Among the great landscapes of the Alps he began to make pictures which were freer in composition and characterised by a burning explosion of colour. By this time Kandinsky knew the art of Cézanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh and the other great moderns; he had seen paintings by Picasso, Matisse and the German Expressionists. Russian popular art, as well as Bavarian glass painting, helped to stimulate his daring use of colour; and yet these cannot adequately account for the fiery expressiveness of the early paintings of Murnau equally far removed from the works of the Fauves as from those of the painters of the Briicke. In paintings of this kind, preferred a relatively compact composi but often d forms in space introduce which paraphrased, with great freedom, the luminosity lased on a fundamental harmony of yellow-red natural reality and and current motifs the works of this phase increasingly lost their particular characteristics to become pretexts for and more inde and while form and colour became more and pendent, the ostensible theme and its representation be came ever further removed from one another. The consequence of this tendency was the progressive aban of truth to nature, up to the point of complete in dependence from the object; as Kandinsky wrote in a pas sage from his "Backward Glances It took many years before I arrived, both intuitively and intellectually conviction that nature and art have ends (and therefore also means) organically and historically different from one another ends equally great, and therefore equally im portant This conviction liberate me, opened up new horizons for me Everything which seemed dead suddenly came to life Everything showed me its face, its inner most being, its secret soul, which is silent more often than it speaks. In this way every point, every line, whether im mobile or in movement, became a living thing for me and revealed its so with all my me. This was enough to make me aware of a new being, with all my senses, of the possibility form of art, the art which today, in contrast to "figurative is known as “abstract’. ...
Source: The Masters 28, Kandinsky, Knowledge Publications, Sir John Rothenstein, Peter Anselm Riedl, translated by Ronald Alley
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