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The Blue Rider, 1903, Vasily Kandinsky, Oil on canvas


 

       

A Spiritual Journey with Kandinsky...

 
 

Horse & Rider

   

 

eCognoscente recommends riding the elevator up at the Guggenheim (purists insist that Wright's original intention was for viewers to ride up and then stroll gently down to earth along the ramp, aided by gravity) and take in the retrospective of the paintings of Vasily Kandinsky (he of the Wassily Chair, the Guggenheim just prefers the alternate spelling).

 

Born in Moscow in 1866, the Russian abstract painter Vasily Kandinsky moved to Germany in 1896 to study art where he befriended the composer Arnold Schoenberg, founded the Blue Rider (Der Blaue Reiter) school of expressionistic painting with Franz Marc, and taught art at the Bauhaus for many years until it was closed by the Nazis.  Kandinsky is one of the pioneers of abstraction and early theorists of modernism in art.  He visualized the spiritual life of humanity as a triangle or pyramid, the artist leading the way to the top or pinnacle. 

 

In 1910, Kandinsky set down his thoughts in Concerning the Spiritual in Art: And Painting in Particular, a classic of its kind.  In this thin volume, Kandinsky sees form and color as purely transcendent.  His ideas on color echo some of Schoenberg's music theories, and he spoke of art in musical terms: Painting is the vast thunderous clash of many worlds...  There is the same vast and cataclysmic quality to that mighty symphony - the Music of the Spheres.  He classified paintings based on music: Impressions, Improvisations, and CompositionsColor and form had to provoke an inner resonance, an emotional response, one had to moved by the music of the painting!  Art as an ascending symphony, eliciting some answering vibration in the heartstrings....

 


Riding Couple, 1907, Oil on canvas, Stadtische Gallery

 

The horse and rider are a recurring motif in his work, an expression of the journey toward abstraction, away from traditional values.  In The Blue Rider, an early painting of his from 1903, one sees this influence of the Fauves and Gauguin, everything is color, all impressions are expressed in emotional hues, there is the distortion of figures and forms to elicit an emotional resonance…. In Riding Couple (1907) entangled lovers on a white horse, beautiful glistening stained-glass patches of color, romantic, sexual love as one way towards the spiritual in art.  In Blue Mountain (1908-09), expanses of deep yellow, red and blue depict a lively overflowing nature, while in the foreground mounted horsemen on white steeds gallop forward and upwards, alive in a world of magic color, pointillist daubs of paint.

 

Blue Mountain, 1908–09, Oil on canvas, Guggenheim Museum

 

So we say, take Wright's beautiful steed of an elevator up for a ride and get closer to the spiritual, right here in NYC! 

 

 

See: Kandinsky @ The Guggenheim 

 

Read: Kandinsky, ed. by Tracey Bashkoff, the accompanying catalogue to the exhibition

 

 

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