Born in Moscow on 4 December 1866, Wassily Kandinsky was educated at Odessa, where his family had moved about 1871, and at the University of Moscow, where he studied economics and law and, after obtaining his degree, became an assistant in the law faculty.
When, in 1896, he was offered a professorship at the University of Dorpat, he declined the invitation and decided instead on a completely different career: he moved to Munich with his cousin Ania Chimiakin, whom he had married several years before and with whom he continued to live for the next seven years, and began to study art. By this time he had already been to Paris (1889 and 1892) and knew the French Impressionists (whose works had been shown in an exhibition at Moscow in 1895) as well as the art treasures of the Hermitage at St. Petersburg, all these were experiences which helped to turn him towards painting. In Munich, which was then still a centre of art nouveau, Kandinsky first attended the Azbé School and later the Academy under Franz von Stuck, in 1901 he founded the group Phalanx which lasted however, for only three years; in 1902 he met Gabriele Miinter, a painter who became his companion for thir- teen years and with whom, after many travels, he settled in 1908 at Murnau, near Staffelsee, in Upper Bavaria.
In 1909 he painted Landscapes of Murnau and his first Improvisations; the same year there took place the foundation of the Association of New Artists of which he was president. In 1910 he made his first positions, as well as the first version of the treatise "On the Spiritual in Art”. These were exceptionally important years for him, not least for the friend ships which he made; he met von Jawlensky and Marianne von Weref kin in 1908, Franz Marc in 1910, Paul Klee, Hans Arp and August Macke in 1911. Likewise in 1911 he founded, with Franz Marc, the group of the "Blaue Reiter which was joined by, among others, Paul Klee, August Macke, Alfred Kubin, Heinrich Campendonk and Gabriele Miinter and which held two exhibitions, the first in Munich and the second shortly afterwards at the Sturm Gallery in Berlin. The outbreak of war abruptly interrupted this period of feverish members of the activity and the "Blaue Reiter' dispersed, after a last group exhibition at the Sturm in 1914. At the same time, Kandinsky returned to Moscow, parted from Gabriele Miinter in 1916, and married in February 1917 the Russian, Nina Andreerskaya, with whom he was to spend the rest of his life. During the years 1924 to 1944 he made an extensive series of journeys, to Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France and to Palestine, Syria, Turkey and Greece. After the Revolution he became a member of the Russian Commissariat for Public Instruction and professor at the State Art School, founded in 1919 the Museum for Pictorial Culture, in 1920 was appointed professor at Moscow University, founded in 1921 the Academy of Aesthetics and in this same year he left Russia, moved to Berlin and thence to Weimar, where he joined the teaching staff of the Bauhaus in 1922. In 1924 he founded with Klee, Feininger and Jawlensky the group known as the Blue Four transferred in the following year with the Bauhaus to Dessau, and in 1926 he published "Point and Line to Plane'. At the same time his art and teaching became more and more widely appreciated as is proved by the numerous exhibitions of his work which were including two in 1929 and 1930 in Paris. After the closure of the Bauhaus in 1933, having himself been subjected to National Socialist persecution, Kandinsky, who had taken German nationality in 1928, left for Paris. In Germany his works were sequestrated and sold for derisory sums. In 1939, at the outbreak of the Second World War, Kandinsky obtained French citizenship and continued to create actively, even during the period of German occupation. He died at the age of seventy-eight, on 13 December 1944, when Paris had already been liberated by the Allies and when the end of the war was very near. Madame Nina Kandinsky (...-1983), who owned many of the artist's finest works, was still living in Paris.
Source: The Masters 28, Kandinsky, Knowledge Publications, Sir John Rothenstein, Peter Anselm Riedl, translated by Ronald Alley