মুখ্য Delphi Collected Works of Wassily Kandinsky
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02 July 2021 (08:24)
[image: cover.jpg] Poster for the Abrikosov Company 1901 [image: img127.jpg] Poster for the Abrikosov Company 1898 [image: img121.jpg] Mild Process 1928 38.6 x 67.8 cm musée des Beaux Arts, Nantes, France [image: img288.jpg] [image: img9.jpg] Downwards 1929 49 x 49 cm musée des Beaux Arts, Nantes, France [image: img292.jpg] [image: img31.jpg] Detail [image: img52.jpg] Detail The Ludwigskirche in Munich 1908 637 x 96 cm Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid, Spain [image: img162.jpg] VII. THEORY From the nature of modern harmony, it results that never has there been a time when it was more difficult than it is today to formulate a complete theory, [Footnote: Attempts have been made. Once more emphasis must be laid on the parallel with music. For example, cf. “Tendances Nouvelles,” No. 35, Henri Ravel: “The laws of harmony are the same for painting and music.”] or to lay down a firm artistic basis. All attempts to do so would have one result, namely, that already cited in the case of Leonardo and his system of little spoons. It would, however, be precipitate to say that there are no basic principles nor firm rules in painting, or that a search for them leads inevitably to academism. Even music has a grammar, which, although modified from time to time, is of continual help and value as a kind of dictionary. Painting is, however, in a different position. The revolt from dependence on nature is only just beginning. Any realization of the inner working of colour and form is so far unconscious. The subjection of composition to some geometrical form is no new idea (cf. the art of the Persians). Construction on a purely abstract basis is a slow business, and at first seemingly blind and aimless. The artist must train not only his eye but also his soul, so that he can test colours for themselves and not only by external impressions. If we begin at once to break the bonds which bind us to nature, and devote ourselves purely to combination of pure colour and abstract form, we shal; l produce works which are mere decoration, which are suited to neckties or carpets. Beauty of Form and Colour is no sufficient aim by itself, despite the assertions of pure aesthetes or even of naturalists, who are obsessed with the idea of “beauty.” It is because of the elementary stage reached by our painting that we are so little able to grasp the inner harmony of true colour and form composition. The nerve vibrations are there, certainly, but they get no further than the nerves, because the corresponding vibrations of the spirit which they call forth are too weak. When we remember, however, that spiritual experience is quickening, that positive science, the firmest basis of human thought, is tottering, that dissolution of matter is imminent, we have reason to hope that the hour of pure composition is not far away. It must not be thought that pure decoration is lifeless. It has its inner being, but one which is either incomprehensible to us, as in the case of old decorative art, or which seems mere illogical confusion, as a world in which full-grown men and embryos play equal roles, in which beings deprived of limbs are on a level with noses and toes which live isolated and of their own vitality. The confusion is like that of a kaleidoscope, which though possessing a life of its own, belongs to another sphere. Nevertheless, decoration has its effect on us; oriental decoration quite differently to Swedish, savage, or ancient Greek. It is not for nothing that there is a general custom of describing samples of decoration as gay, serious, sad, etc., as music is described as Allegro, Serioso, etc., according to the nature of the piece. Probably conventional decoration had its beginnings in nature. But when we would assert that external nature is the sole source of all art, we must remember that, in patterning, natural objects are used as symbols, almost as though they were mere hieroglyphics. For this reason we cannot gauge their inner harmony. For instance, we can bear a design of Chinese dragons in our dining or bed rooms, and are no more disturbed by it than by a design of daisies. It is possible that towards the close of our already dying epoch a new decorative art will develop, but it is not likely to be founded on geometrical form. At the present time any attempt to define this new art would be as useless as pulling a small bud open so as to make a fully blown flower. Nowadays we are still bound to external nature and must find our means of expression in her. But how are we to do it? In other words, how far may we go in altering the forms and colours of this nature? We may go as far as the artist is able to carry his emotion, and once more we see how immense is the need for true emotion. A few examples will make the meaning of this clearer. A warm red tone will materially alter in inner value when it is no longer considered as an isolated colour, as something abstract, but is applied as an element of some other object, and combined with natural form. The variety of natural forms will create a variety of spiritual values, all of which will harmonize with that of the original isolated red. Suppose we combine red with sky, flowers, a garment, a face, a horse, a tree. A red sky suggests to us sunset, or fire, and has a consequent effect upon us — either of splendour or menace. Much depends now on the way in which other objects are treated in connection with this red sky. If the treatment is faithful to nature, but all the same harmonious, the “naturalistic” appeal of the sky is strengthened. If, however, the other objects are treated in a way which is more abstract, they tend to lessen, if not to destroy, the naturalistic appeal of the sky. Much the same applies to the use of red in a human face. In this case red can be employed to emphasize the passionate or other characteristics of the model, with a force that only an extremely abstract treatment of the rest of the picture can subdue. A red garment is quite a different matter; for it can in reality be of any colour. Red will, however, be found best to supply the needs of pure artistry, for here alone can it be used without any association with material aims. The artist has to consider not only the value of the red cloak by itself, but also its value in connection with the figure wearing it, and further the relation of the figure to the whole picture. Suppose the picture to be a sad one, and the red-cloaked figure to be the central point on which the sadness is concentrated — either from its central position, or features, attitude, colour, or what not. The red will provide an acute discord of feeling, which will emphasize the gloom of the picture. The use of a colour, in itself sad, would weaken the effect of the dramatic whole. [Footnote: Once more it is wise to emphasize the necessary inadequacy of these examples. Rules cannot be laid down, the variations are so endless. A single line can alter the whole composition of a picture.] This is the principle of antithesis already defined. Red by itself cannot have a sad effect on the spectator, and its inclusion in a sad picture will, if properly handled, provide the dramatic element. [Footnote: The use of terms like “sad” and “joyful” are only clumsy equivalents for the delicate spiritual vibrations of the new harmony. They must be read as necessarily inadequate.] Yet again is the case of a red tree different. The fundamental value of red remains, as in every case. But the association of “autumn” creeps in. The colour combines easily with this association, and there is no dramatic clash as in the case of the red cloak. Finally, the red horse provides a further variation. The very words put us in another atmosphere. The impossibility of a red horse demands an unreal world. It is possible that this combination of colour and form will appeal as a freak — a purely superficial and non-artistic appeal — or as a hint of a fairy story [Footnote: An incomplete fairy story works on the mind as does a cinematograph film.] — once more a non-artistic appeal. To set this red horse in a careful naturalistic landscape would create such a discord as to produce no appeal and no coherence. The need for coherence is the essential of harmony — whether founded on conventional discord or concord. The new harmony demands that the inner value of a picture should remain unified whatever the variations or contrasts of outward form or colour. The elements of the new art are to be found, therefore, in the inner and not the outer qualities of nature. The spectator is too ready to look for a meaning in a picture — i.e., some outward connection between its various parts. Our materialistic age has produced a type of spectator or “connoisseur,” who is not content to put himself opposite a picture and let it say its own message. Instead of allowing the inner value of the picture to work, he worries himself in looking for “closeness to nature,” or “temperament,” or “handling,” or “tonality,” or “perspective,” or what not. His eye does not probe the outer expression to arrive at the inner meaning. In a conversation with an interesting person, we endeavour to get at his fundamental ideas and feelings. We do not bother about the words he uses, nor the spelling of those words, nor the breath necessary for speaking them, nor the movements of his tongue and lips, nor the psychological working on our brain, nor the physical sound in our ear, nor the physiological effect on our nerves. We realize that these things, though interesting and important, are not the main things of the moment, but that the meaning and idea is what concerns us. We should have the same feeling when confronted with a work of art. When this becomes general the artist will be able to dispense with natural form and colour and speak in purely artistic language. To return to the combination of colour and form, there is another possibility which should be noted. Non-naturalistic objects in a picture may have a “literary” appeal, and the whole picture may have the working of a fable. The spectator is put in an atmosphere which does not disturb him because he accepts it as fabulous, and in which he tries to trace the story and undergoes more or less the various appeals of colour. But the pure inner working of colour is impossible; the outward idea has the mastery still. For the spectator has only exchanged a blind reality for a blind dreamland, where the truth of inner feeling cannot be felt. We must find, therefore, a form of expression which excludes the fable and yet does not restrict the free working of colour in any way. The forms, movement, and colours which we borrow from nature must produce no outward effect nor be associated with external objects. The more obvious is the separation from nature, the more likely is the inner meaning to be pure and unhampered. The tendency of a work of art may be very simple, but provided it is not dictated by any external motive and provided it is not working to any material end, the harmony will be pure. The most ordinary action — for example, preparation for lifting a heavy weight — becomes mysterious and dramatic, when its actual purpose is not revealed. We stand and gaze fascinated, till of a sudden the explanation bursts suddenly upon us. It is the conviction that nothing mysterious can ever happen in our everyday life that has destroyed the joy of abstract thought. Practical considerations have ousted all else. It is with this fact in view that the new dancing is being evolved — as, that is to say, the only means of giving in terms of time and space the real inner meaning of motion. The origin of dancing is probably purely sexual. In folk-dances we still see this element plainly. The later development of dancing as a religious ceremony joins itself to the preceding element and the two together take artistic form and emerge as the ballet. The ballet at the present time is in a state of chaos owing to this double origin. Its external motives — the expression of love and fear, etc. — are too material and naive for the abstract ideas of the future. In the search for more subtle expression, our modern reformers have looked to the past for help. Isadora Duncan has forged a link between the Greek dancing and that of the future. In this she is working on parallel lines to the painters who are looking for inspiration from the primitives. [Footnote: Kandinsky’s example of Isadora Duncan is not perhaps perfectly chosen. This famous dancer founds her art mainly upon a study of Greek vases and not necessarily of the primitive period. Her aims are distinctly towards what Kandinsky calls “conventional beauty,” and what is perhaps more important, her movements are not dictated solely by the “inner harmony,” but largely by conscious outward imitation of Greek attitudes. Either Nijinsky’s later ballets: Le Sacre du Printemps, L’Apres-midi d’un Faune, Jeux, or the idea actuating the Jacques Dalcroze system of Eurhythmics seem to fall more into line with Kandinsky’s artistic forecast. In the first case “conventional beauty” has been abandoned, to the dismay of numbers of writers and spectators, and a definite return has been made to primitive angles and abruptness. In the second case motion and dance are brought out of the souls of the pupils, truly spontaneous, at the call of the “inner harmony.” Indeed a comparison between Isadora Duncan and M. Dalcroze is a comparison between the “naturalist” and “symbolist” ideals in art which were outlined in the introduction to this book. — M.T.H.S.] In dance as in painting this is only a stage of transition. In dancing as in painting we are on the threshold of the art of the future. The same rules must be applied in both cases. Conventional beauty must go by the board and the literary element of “story-telling” or “anecdote” must be abandoned as useless. Both arts must learn from music that every harmony and every discord which springs from the inner spirit is beautiful, but that it is essential that they should spring from the inner spirit and from that alone. The achievement of the dance-art of the future will make possible the first ebullition of the art of spiritual harmony — the true stage-composition. The composition for the new theatre will consist of these three elements: (1) Musical movement (2) Pictorial movement (3) Physical movement and these three, properly combined, make up the spiritual movement, which is the working of the inner harmony. They will be interwoven in harmony and discord as are the two chief elements of painting, form and colour. Scriabin’s attempt to intensify musical tone by corresponding use of colour is necessarily tentative. In the perfected stage-composition the two elements are increased by the third, and endless possibilities of combination and individual use are opened up. Further, the external can be combined with the internal harmony, as Schonberg has attempted in his quartettes. It is impossible here to go further into the developments of this idea. The reader must apply the principles of painting already stated to the problem of stage-composition, and outline for himself the possibilities of the theatre of the future, founded on the immovable principle of the inner need. From what has been said of the combination of colour and form, the way to the new art can be traced. This way lies today between two dangers. On the one hand is the totally arbitrary application of colour to geometrical form — pure patterning. On the other hand is the more naturalistic use of colour in bodily form — pure phantasy. Either of these alternatives may in their turn be exaggerated. Everything is at the artist’s disposal, and the freedom of today has at once its dangers and its possibilities. We may be present at the conception of a new great epoch, or we may see the opportunity squandered in aimless extravagance. [Footnote: On this question see my article “Uber die Formfrage” — in “Der Blaue Reiter” (Piper-Verlag, 1912). Taking the work of Henri Rousseau as a starting point, I go on to prove that the new naturalism will not only be equivalent to but even identical with abstraction.] That art is above nature is no new discovery. [Footnote: Cf. “Goethe”, by Karl Heinemann, 1899, ; also Oscar Wilde, “De Profundis”; also Delacroix, “My Diary”.] New principles do not fall from heaven, but are logically if indirectly connected with past and future. What is important to us is the momentary position of the principle and how best it can be used. It must not be employed forcibly. But if the artist tunes his soul to this note, the sound will ring in his work of itself. The “emancipation” of today must advance on the lines of the inner need. It is hampered at present by external form, and as that is thrown aside, there arises as the aim of composition-construction. The search for constructive form has produced Cubism, in which natural form is often forcibly subjected to geometrical construction, a process which tends to hamper the abstract by the concrete and spoil the concrete by the abstract. The harmony of the new art demands a more subtle construction than this, something that appeals less to the eye and more to the soul. This “concealed construction” may arise from an apparently fortuitous selection of forms on the canvas. Their external lack of cohesion is their internal harmony. This haphazard arrangement of forms may be the future of artistic harmony. Their fundamental relationship will finally be able to be expressed in mathematical form, but in terms irregular rather than regular. Grungasse in Murnau 1909 33 x 44.6 cm Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, German [image: img172.jpg] II. THE MOVEMENT OF THE TRIANGLE The life of the spirit may be fairly represented in diagram as a large acute-angled triangle divided horizontally into unequal parts with the narrowest segment uppermost. The lower the segment the greater it is in breadth, depth, and area. The whole triangle is moving slowly, almost invisibly forwards and upwards. Where the apex was today the second segment is tomorrow; what today can be understood only by the apex and to the rest of the triangle is an incomprehensible gibberish, forms tomorrow the true thought and feeling of the second segment. At the apex of the top segment stands often one man, and only one. His joyful vision cloaks a vast sorrow. Even those who are nearest to him in sympathy do not understand him. Angrily they abuse him as charlatan or madman. So in his lifetime stood Beethoven, solitary and insulted. [Footnote: Weber, composer of Der Freischutz, said of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony: “The extravagances of genius have reached the limit; Beethoven is now ripe for an asylum.” Of the opening phrase, on a reiterated “e,” the Abbe Stadler said to his neighbour, when first he heard it: “Always that miserable ‘e’; he seems to be deaf to it himself, the idiot!”] How many years will it be before a greater segment of the triangle reaches the spot where he once stood alone? Despite memorials and statues, are they really many who have risen to his level? [Footnote 2: Are not many monuments in themselves answers to that question?] In every segment of the triangle are artists. Each one of them who can see beyond the limits of his segment is a prophet to those about him, and helps the advance of the obstinate whole. But those who are blind, or those who retard the movement of the triangle for baser reasons, are fully understood by their fellows and acclaimed for their genius. The greater the segment (which is the same as saying the lower it lies in the triangle) so the greater the number who understand the words of the artist. Every segment hungers consciously or, much more often, unconsciously for their corresponding spiritual food. This food is offered by the artists, and for this food the segment immediately below will tomorrow be stretching out eager hands. This simile of the triangle cannot be said to express every aspect of the spiritual life. For instance, there is never an absolute shadow-side to the picture, never a piece of unrelieved gloom. Even too often it happens that one level of spiritual food suffices for the nourishment of those who are already in a higher segment. But for them this food is poison; in small quantities it depresses their souls gradually into a lower segment; in large quantities it hurls them suddenly into the depths ever lower and lower. Sienkiewicz, in one of his novels, compares the spiritual life to swimming; for the man who does not strive tirelessly, who does not fight continually against sinking, will mentally and morally go under. In this strait a man’s talent (again in the biblical sense) becomes a curse — and not only the talent of the artist, but also of those who eat this poisoned food. The artist uses his strength to flatter his lower needs; in an ostensibly artistic form he presents what is impure, draws the weaker elements to him, mixes them with evil, betrays men and helps them to betray themselves, while they convince themselves and others that they are spiritually thirsty, and that from this pure spring they may quench their thirst. Such art does not help the forward movement, but hinders it, dragging back those who are striving to press onward, and spreading pestilence abroad. Such periods, during which art has no noble champion, during which the true spiritual food is wanting, are periods of retrogression in the spiritual world. Ceaselessly souls fall from the higher to the lower segments of the triangle, and the whole seems motionless, or even to move down and backwards. Men attribute to these blind and dumb periods a special value, for they judge them by outward results, thinking only of material well-being. They hail some technical advance, which can help nothing but the body, as a great achievement. Real spiritual gains are at best under-valued, at worst entirely ignored. The solitary visionaries are despised or regarded as abnormal and eccentric. Those who are not wrapped in lethargy and who feel vague longings for spiritual life and knowledge and progress, cry in harsh chorus, without any to comfort them. The night of the spirit falls more and more darkly. Deeper becomes the misery of these blind and terrified guides, and their followers, tormented and unnerved by fear and doubt, prefer to this gradual darkening the final sudden leap into the blackness. At such a time art ministers to lower needs, and is used for material ends. She seeks her substance in hard realities because she knows of nothing nobler. Objects, the reproduction of which is considered her sole aim, remain monotonously the same. The question “what?” disappears from art; only the question “how?” remains. By what method are these material objects to be reproduced? The word becomes a creed. Art has lost her soul. In the search for method the artist goes still further. Art becomes so specialized as to be comprehensible only to artists, and they complain bitterly of public indifference to their work. For since the artist in such times has no need to say much, but only to be notorious for some small originality and consequently lauded by a small group of patrons and connoisseurs (which incidentally is also a very profitable business for him), there arise a crowd of gifted and skilful painters, so easy does the conquest of art appear. In each artistic circle are thousands of such artists, of whom the majority seek only for some new technical manner, and who produce millions of works of art without enthusiasm, with cold hearts and souls asleep. Competition arises. The wild battle for success becomes more and more material. Small groups who have fought their way to the top of the chaotic world of art and picture-making entrench themselves in the territory they have won. The public, left far behind, looks on bewildered, loses interest and turns away. But despite all this confusion, this chaos, this wild hunt for notoriety, the spiritual triangle, slowly but surely, with irresistible strength, moves onwards and upwards. The invisible Moses descends from the mountain and sees the dance round the golden calf. But he brings with him fresh stores of wisdom to man. First by the artist is heard his voice, the voice that is inaudible to the crowd. Almost unknowingly the artist follows the call. Already in that very question “how?” lies a hidden seed of renaissance. For when this “how?” remains without any fruitful answer, there is always a possibility that the same “something” (which we call personality today) may be able to see in the objects about it not only what is purely material but also something less solid; something less “bodily” than was seen in the period of realism, when the universal aim was to reproduce anything “as it really is” and without fantastic imagination. [Footnote: Frequent use is made here of the terms “material” and “non-material,” and of the intermediate phrases “more” or “less material.” Is everything material? or is EVERYTHING spiritual? Can the distinctions we make between matter and spirit be nothing but relative modifications of one or the other? Thought which, although a product of the spirit, can be defined with positive science, is matter, but of fine and not coarse substance. Is whatever cannot be touched with the hand, spiritual? The discussion lies beyond the scope of this little book; all that matters here is that the boundaries drawn should not be too definite.] If the emotional power of the artist can overwhelm the “how?” and can give free scope to his finer feelings, then art is on the crest of the road by which she will not fail later on to find the “what” she has lost, the “what” which will show the way to the spiritual food of the newly awakened spiritual life. This “what?” will no longer be the material, objective “what” of the former period, but the internal truth of art, the soul without which the body (i.e. the “how”) can never be healthy, whether in an individual or in a whole people. THIS “WHAT” IS THE INTERNAL TRUTH WHICH ONLY ART CAN DIVINE, WHICH ONLY ART CAN EXPRESS BY THOSE MEANS OF EXPRESSION WHICH ARE HERS ALONE. [image: img100.png] Detail Picture with A White Border 1913 140.3 x 200.3 cm Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA [image: img232.jpg] [image: img71.jpg] Detail CONCERNING THE SPIRITUAL IN ART [image: img8.png] Translated by Michael T. H. Sadler Published in 1912, Kandinsky’s Du Spirituel dans l’art defines explores types of painting: impressions, improvisations and compositions. Impressions are based on an external reality that serve as a starting point, while improvisations and compositions depict images emergent from the unconscious, though composition is developed from a more formal point of view. In the groundbreaking text, Kandinsky compares the spiritual life of humanity to a pyramid, where the artist has a mission to lead others to the pinnacle of his work. The point of the pyramid is those few, great artists. It is a spiritual pyramid, advancing and ascending slowly, though at times it appears immobile. During decadent periods, the soul sinks to the bottom of the pyramid; humanity searches only for external success, ignoring spiritual forces. The artist argues that colours on the painter’s palette evoke a double effect: a purely physical effect on the eye that is charmed by the beauty of colours, similar to the joyful impression when we eat a delicacy. This effect can be much deeper, however, causing a vibration of the soul or an “inner resonance” — a spiritual effect in which the colour touches the soul itself. “Inner necessity” is, for Kandinsky, the principle of art and the foundation of forms and the harmony of colours. Kandinsky defines it as the principle of efficient contact of the form with the human soul. Every form is the delimitation of a surface by another form; it possesses an inner content, the effect it produces on one that looks at it attentively. This inner necessity is the right of the artist to unlimited freedom, but this freedom becomes licence if it is not founded on such a necessity. Art is generated from the inner necessity of the artist in an enigmatic, mystical way through which it acquires an autonomous life; it becomes an independent subject, animated by a spiritual breath. [image: img11.png] Detail [image: img107.jpg] Tempered Elan 1944 42 x 58 cm Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France [image: img337.png] Colourful Life 1907 130 x 162.5 cm Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, German [image: img152.jpg] Walled City in Autumn Landscape 1902 Lenbachhaus, Munich, Germany [image: img130.jpg] Moscow; Zubovskaya Square. Study. 1916 Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia [image: img245.jpg] [image: img102.jpg] Murnau am Staffelsee 1908 Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK [image: img165.jpg] Improvisation. Deluge 1913 95 x 150 cm Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, German [image: img226.jpg] [image: img95.jpg] Detail [image: img343.png] Kandinsky’s grave Gabriele Münter 1905 45 x 45 cm Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, German [image: img142.jpg] [image: img113.jpg] Detail ALPHABETICAL LIST OF PAINTINGS [image: img8.png] CONTENTS 304 A Floating Figure A Mountain Accent on Rose Accent on Rose All Saints Day I All Saints Day II An Angel of the Last Judgement Ancient Russia Angel of the Last Judgment Arab Town Arabs I (Cemetery) Around the Circle At Rest Autumn in Bavaria Autumn in Murnau Beach Baskets in Holland Bedroom in Aintmillerstrasse Black and Violet Black Frame Black Relationship Black Spot Black Strokes I Black-Red Blue Blue Mountain Blue Rider Blue Segment Boat Trip Brown with Supplement Capricious Cemetery and Vicarage in Kochel Circulation Slowed Colour Study: Squares with Concentric Circles Colourful Ensemble Colourful Life Comet Compensation Rose Compensation Rose Complex Simple Composition Composition IV Composition IX Composition V Composition VI Composition VII Composition VIII Composition X Conglomerat Contrasting Sounds Couple Riding Crinolines Crossing Dark Freshness Decisive Pink Dominant curve Downwards Draft for Mural in the Unjuried Art Show, Wall B Drawing for Etching II Encounter Farewell First Abstract Watercolour Fixed Points Forest Edge Fragile Fugue Gabriele Münter Gabriele Munter painting Gentle Accent Glass Painting with the Sun (Small Pleasures) Gravitation Green Composition Green Emptiness Grey Oval Group in Crinolines Grouping Grungasse in Murnau Horses Houses at Murnau Impression III (Concert) Improvisation (Dreamy) Improvisation 10 Improvisation 11 Improvisation 12 (Rider) Improvisation 14 Improvisation 19 Improvisation 26 (Rowing) Improvisation 28 (second version) Improvisation 29 Improvisation 3 Improvisation 30 (Cannons) Improvisation 31 (Sea Battle) Improvisation 4 Improvisation 6 (African) Improvisation 7 Improvisation 9 Improvisation. Deluge Improvisation. Gorge In Blue In Blue In Grey In The Forest Interior (My dining room) Intime Message Kochel – Gabriele Munter Kochel Graveyard Kochel: Waterfall I Lady in Moscow Landscape with a Steam Locomotive Landscape with Factory Chimney Landscape with Rain Landscape with red spots Last Watercolour Merry Structure Mild Process Moonlight Night Moscow I Moscow; Smolensky Boulevard. Study Moscow; Zubovskaya Square. Study. Mountain Landscape with Church Movement I Munich-Schwabing with the Church of St. Ursula Murnau am Staffelsee Murnau Garden Murnau Garden Murnau View with Railway and Castle Murnau with a Church Murnau with Rainbow Night Odessa Port Okhtyrka, Autumn Okhtyrka. Red Church. Old Town II On the Points On White II Orange Orange-Violet Painting on Light Ground Painting with Green Centre Painting with Red Spot Park of St. Cloud Park of St. Cloud with Horseman Picture II, Gnomus Picture with a Black Arch Picture with A White Border Picture with Archer Picture XVI, The Great Gate of Kiev Points Poster for the Abrikosov Company Poster for the Abrikosov Company Rapallo Boats Rapallo Grauer Day Reciprocal Accords Red Oval Red Spot II Red Wall Destiny Rising of the Moon Romantic Landscape Rotterdam Sun Russian Beauty in a Landscape Santa Marguerite Several Circles Sky Blue Small Dream in Red Small Pleasures Small Worlds Small Worlds II Small Worlds III Small Worlds III Small Worlds VI Small Worlds VII Small Worlds X Small Worlds XI Soft Roughness St. George and the Dragon Storeys Study for “Circles on Black” Study for “Composition VII” Study for Autumn Study for Improvisation 8 Study for Sluice Study to “Composition II” Succession Surfaces Meeting Tempered Elan The Cow The Elephant The Golden Sail The Isar near Grosshessolohe The Last Judgment The Ludwigskirche in Munich The Singer Thirteen Rectangles Thirty To the Unknown Voice Transverse Line Twilight Two Birds Two Riders and Reclining Figure Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled (First Abstract Watercolour) Upward Various Parts Volga Song Walled City in Autumn Landscape White Figure White Line White Line White Oval White Sound Winter Landscape Old Town II 1902 52 x 78.5 cm Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France [image: img128.png] The Cow 1910 [image: img202.jpg] Red Oval 1920 71.5 x 71.5 cm Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA [image: img254.jpg] [image: img97.png] Detail Farewell 1903 31.2 x 31.2 cm Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia [image: img132.jpg] Improvisation 12 (Rider) 1910 97.5 x 106.5 cm Staatsgalerie Moderner Kunst, Munich, Germany [image: img193.jpg] [image: img68.jpg] Improvisation 7 1910 131 x 97 cm The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia [image: img194.jpg] Small Worlds 1922 24.8 x 21.8 cm [image: img262.jpg] Thirty 1937 100 x 81 cm Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France [image: img315.jpg] CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF PAINTINGS [image: img8.png] A range of Kandinsky’s paintings are presented in chronological order and divided into decade sections, with an alphabetical table of contents following immediately after. CONTENTS 1900’s Odessa Port Poster for the Abrikosov Company Comet Kochel: Waterfall I The Isar near Grosshessolohe Study for Sluice Okhtyrka, Autumn Poster for the Abrikosov Company Old Town II Kochel – Gabriele Munter Walled City in Autumn Landscape Blue Rider Farewell Forest Edge Gabriele Munter painting The Golden Sail The Singer Rising of the Moon Ancient Russia Beach Baskets in Holland In The Forest Arab Town Gabriele Münter Rapallo Boats Russian Beauty in a Landscape Rapallo Grauer Day Couple Riding Park of St. Cloud Park of St. Cloud with Horseman Rotterdam Sun Santa Marguerite Volga Song Colourful Life Moonlight Night Night Two Birds Autumn in Murnau Autumn in Bavaria Blue Mountain Munich-Schwabing with the Church of St. Ursula The Elephant White Sound The Ludwigskirche in Munich Okhtyrka. Red Church. Encounter Murnau am Staffelsee A Mountain Arabs I (Cemetery) Bedroom in Aintmillerstrasse Cemetery and Vicarage in Kochel Crinolines Group in Crinolines Grungasse in Murnau Horses Houses at Murnau Improvisation 3 Improvisation 6 (African) Interior (My dining room) Murnau View with Railway and Castle Murnau with Rainbow Picture with Archer Red Wall Destiny Study for Autumn Winter Landscape Landscape with a Steam Locomotive Improvisation 4 Study for Improvisation 8 Murnau Garden 1910’s Boat Trip First Abstract Watercolour Glass Painting with the Sun (Small Pleasures) Improvisation 11 Improvisation 12 (Rider) Improvisation 7 Improvisation 14 Landscape with Factory Chimney Mountain Landscape with Church Murnau Garden Murnau with a Church 304 Study to “Composition II” The Cow Two Riders and Reclining Figure Untitled (First Abstract Watercolour) Kochel Graveyard Improvisation 9 Improvisation 10 All Saints Day I All Saints Day II Angel of the Last Judgment Composition IV Composition V Impression III (Concert) Improvisation 19 Romantic Landscape An Angel of the Last Judgement Black Spot Improvisation 26 (Rowing) Lady in Moscow Picture with a Black Arch The Last Judgment Improvisation 28 (second version) Black Strokes I Composition VI Composition VII Improvisation. Deluge Improvisation (Dreamy) Improvisation 30 (Cannons) Improvisation 31 (Sea Battle) Landscape with red spots Painting with Green Centre Picture with A White Border Small Pleasures Study for “Composition VII” Colour Study: Squares with Concentric Circles Landscape with Rain Fugue Improvisation. Gorge Painting with Red Spot St. George and the Dragon Untitled Drawing for Etching II Moscow I Moscow; Smolensky Boulevard. Study Moscow; Zubovskaya Square. Study. Painting on Light Ground To the Unknown Voice Grey Oval Improvisation 29 In Grey White Oval 1920’s Points Red Oval White Line Blue Segment Red Spot II Study for “Circles on Black” Black Frame Blue Draft for Mural in the Unjuried Art Show, Wall B Small Worlds Small Worlds II Small Worlds III Small Worlds III Small Worlds VI Small Worlds VII Small Worlds X Small Worlds XI Black and Violet Composition VIII Green Composition On White II Orange Transverse Line Black Relationship Contrasting Sounds In Blue Small Dream in Red In Blue Accent on Rose Accent on Rose Several Circles Merry Structure Dark Freshness Black-Red Crossing Mild Process Picture II, Gnomus On the Points Picture XVI, The Great Gate of Kiev Downwards Storeys Upward 1930’s Capricious Green Emptiness Thirteen Rectangles Circulation Slowed Fragile Decisive Pink Compensation Rose Compensation Rose Soft Roughness Gentle Accent Surfaces Meeting Brown with Supplement Gravitation Orange-Violet Succession Movement I Composition IX Dominant curve White Line Thirty Grouping Colourful Ensemble Complex Simple Composition X 1940’s Around the Circle Sky Blue Various Parts Untitled Untitled A Floating Figure At Rest Fixed Points Intime Message Reciprocal Accords Conglomerat Twilight White Figure Composition Last Watercolour Untitled Tempered Elan [image: img12.jpg] Detail [image: img29.jpg] Detail Sky Blue 1940 100 x 73 cm Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France [image: img322.jpg] CONTENTS TRANSLATOR’S INTRODUCTION REFERENCE PART I: ABOUT GENERAL AESTHETIC I. INTRODUCTION II. THE MOVEMENT OF THE TRIANGLE III. SPIRITUAL REVOLUTION IV. THE PYRAMID PART II: ABOUT PAINTING V. THE PSYCHOLOGICAL WORKING OF COLOUR VI. THE LANGUAGE OF FORM AND COLOUR VII. THEORY VIII. ART AND ARTISTS IX. CONCLUSION The Highlights [image: img6.png] Moscow, c. 1900 — Kandinsky’s birthplace Gravitation 1935 [image: img308.jpg] STOREYS [image: img8.png] In 1921, Kandinsky was invited to go to Germany to attend the Bauhaus of Weimar by its founder, architect Walter Gropius. The Bauhaus was an art school that combined crafts and the fine arts, which in time became famous for its approach to design that it publicised and instructed. Kandinsky taught the basic design class for beginners and the course on advanced theory at the Bauhaus; he also conducted painting classes and a workshop in which he augmented his colour theory with new elements of form psychology. The development of his works on forms study, particularly on points and line forms, led to the publication of his second theoretical book, Point and Line to Plane, in 1926. Geometrical elements took on increasing importance in both his teaching and painting — particularly the circle, half-circle, the angle, straight lines and curves. This period was intensely productive. Kandinsky was to teach at the Bauhaus school of art and architecture from 1922 until the Nazis closed it in 1933. Housed in New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the 1929 canvas Storeys is evidently reminiscent of Paul Klee’s style of work and the two artists lived together for a time at the Bauhaus in Dessau. The composition presents a striking collection of abstract entities, occupying several floors (storeys) of a house structure, perhaps as an ironic commentary on the construction programme of the Bauhaus, the functional structuring of living space into small, identical units like the experimental Torten estate in Dessau, built with the help of industrial production methods. Though Kandinsky’s paintings may seem positive, the last years of the Dessau Bauhaus were sadly not. [image: img24.jpg] Detail Murnau Garden 1909 67 x 51 cm Merzbacher Kunststiftung, Switzerland [image: img187.jpg] [image: img37.jpg] [image: img14.jpg] Kandinsky as a child, aged five Rotterdam Sun 1906 [image: img149.jpg] [image: img64.jpg] [image: img70.jpg] Detail [image: img104.jpg] Detail Decisive Pink 1932 80.9 x 100 cm Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA [image: img301.jpg] An Angel of the Last Judgement 1911 64 x 50 cm Merzbacher Kunststiftung, Switzerland [image: img216.jpg] [image: img96.jpg] Small Worlds X 1922 23.9 x 20 cm Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, German [image: img268.jpg] Movement I 1935 116 x 89 cm The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia [image: img311.jpg] SKY BLUE [image: img8.png] Due to a Nazi smear campaign the Bauhaus left Dessau in 1932 for Berlin and Kandinsky decided to leave Germany for Paris, where he settled for the last eleven years of his life. Living in an apartment, he created his paintings in a living-room studio. His work at this time often features biomorphic forms with supple, non-geometric outlines, suggesting microscopic organisms, which tended to express the artist’s inner life in various ways. Kandinsky also liked to imbue these forms with original colour compositions, evoking Slavic popular art motifs. He also occasionally mixed sand with paint to give a granular, rustic texture to his paintings. Housed in the Musée National d’Art Moderne Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the 1940 canvas Sky Blue is a key example of this period. The painting draws inspiration from biology, depicting forms resembling embryos, larvae or invertebrates, a minuscule population embodying the living. This image also exemplifies the fact that in the final years of his life, Kandinsky’s work tended towards a blue monochrome palette. Whereas previously his paintings were composed of colours confronting and challenging each other, now they were liberated in a blue expanse, savouring the freedom to dream. At Rest 1942 Collection of Mrs. and Mrs. Nathan [image: img327.jpg] Draft for Mural in the Unjuried Art Show, Wall B 1922 34.7 x 60 cm Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France [image: img261.jpg] Bedroom in Aintmillerstrasse 1909 48.5 x 69.5 cm Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, German [image: img168.jpg] Impression III (Concert) 1911 77.5 x 100 cm Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, German [image: img213.jpg] Succession April 1935 100 x 81 cm Philips Collection, Washington DC, USA [image: img310.jpg] Improvisation 4 1909 1585 x 108 cm Nizhnii Novgorod State Art Museum, Nizhnii Novgorod, Russia [image: img185.jpg] Improvisation 28 (second version) 1912 111 x 162 cm Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA [image: img222.jpg] SMALL PLEASURES [image: img8.png] Now housed in New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, this large canvas from 1913 was produced at a busy time in the artist’s life, was he was organising exhibitions and continuing to further develop his new means of abstract expression in painting. Small Pleasures is centred upon two hills, each crowned by a citadel. On the right-hand side there is a boat with three oars, which is riding a storm under a threatening black cloud. To the bottom left a couple is depicted at a steep angle to the hill and above them three horsemen can be seen at full gallop, while the fiery sun obtrudes the corner. The actual interpretation of these elements has been the subject of much debate since the recent discovery of an unpublished essay on the painting by Kandinsky in June 1913. It appears to discourage the irony which some have read into an imagined discrepancy between the title and the painting, nullifying the heavy apocalyptic signification of the imagery. In the essay Kandinsky even writes of the ‘joyfulness’ of execution he felt at the time. Therefore, the painting is now viewed as a celebration of Kandinsky’s style during this period, affirming the spiritual and practical pleasures he manifestly derived from painting, ‘pouring a lot of small pleasures on to the canvas’. Though Small Pleasures has a chaotic appearance, it was in no means a product of spontaneity. The various modes of paint application and the complexity of pigment selection were planned with much forethought. The way colours are washed and blurred together and are seldom contained by bounding lines is typical of the artist’s work at this time. The predominantly curvilinear aspect of the work, however, is undermined by the angular geometry of the citadel, perhaps hinting at Kandinsky’s later Bauhaus style. There are few monochrome patches in the composition, underlining the large scale of execution and great pleasure he took in his work. He wrote of the ‘fine, very fine lines’ scrupulously worked in with an extra-thin brush, and of his successful suppression of ‘lustre’ from the gold and silver areas. Black and Violet 1923 [image: img270.jpg] Romantic Landscape 1911 94.3 x 129 cm Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, German [image: img215.jpg] Study for Autumn 1909 Gabrielle Munter Foundation [image: img182.jpg] Around the Circle 1940 96.8 x 146 cm Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA [image: img321.jpg] Odessa Port 1898 State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow [image: img120.jpg] Colour Study: Squares with Concentric Circles c.1913 Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, German [image: img235.jpg] Gabriele Munter painting 1903 58.5 x 58.5 cm Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, German [image: img134.jpg] [image: img49.jpg] Detail Group in Crinolines 1909 Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA [image: img171.jpg] [image: img89.jpg] Detail 1930’s [image: img295.jpg] COMPOSITION VIII [image: img8.png] Kandinsky produced ten Compositions, seven between 1909 and 1913, which he considered as the supreme category of his art, fusing rational conception, imagination and intuition. In formal terms, they are concerned with the liberation of colour from the depiction of objects and its unrestrained sweeping bloom in an anti-perspectival space, while the line gains independence as a symbolic vestige of the representational register. Kandinsky’s Compositions VI and VII are devoted to the themes of the Flood and the Last Judgment; they must be seen in the context of the atmosphere of fervent eschatological expectation on the eve of World War I. Composition 8 (1923) was the first major Kandinsky canvas to enter Solomon R. Guggenheim’s collection, which the collector purchased at the Dessau Bauhaus in 1934. The composition was painted nearly a decade after Composition VII and is dominated by miscellaneous geometric and abstract elements, while the drawn black outlines designating the geometric forms make the piece somewhat unusual in his oeuvre. Once again we can glimpse the triangular shapes of mountain peaks, lending a harmonious and cool composition device to the image. The striking and highly organised canvas is considered by many to be one of the artist’s greatest achievements of his inter-war period. Crossing 1928 37.4 x 36.7 cm Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France [image: img287.jpg] [image: img77.jpg] ‘Suprematism’ by Kazimir Malevich, 1916 [image: img99.png] Detail Orange 1923 40.6 x 38.3 cm Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA [image: img274.jpg] REFERENCE Those interested in the ideas and work of Kandinsky and his fellow artists would do well to consult: DER BLAUE REITER, vol. i. Piper Verlag, Munich, 10 mk. This sumptuous volume contains articles by Kandinsky, Franz Marc, Arnold Schonberg, etc., together with some musical texts and numerous reproductions — some in colour — of the work of the primitive mosaicists, glass-painters, and sculptors, as well as of more modern artists from Greco to Kandinsky, Marc, and their friends. The choice of illustrations gives an admirable idea of the continuity and steady growth of the new painting, sculpture, and music. KLANGE. By Wassily Kandinsky. Piper Verlag, Munich, 30 mk. A most beautifully produced book of prose-poems, with a large number of illustrations, many in colour. This is Kandinsky’s most recent work. Also the back and current numbers of Der Sturm, a weekly paper published in Berlin in the defence of the new art. Illustrations by Marc, Pechstein, le Fauconnier, Delaunay, Kandinsky, etc. Also poems and critical articles. Price per weekly number 25 pfg. Der Sturm has in preparation an album of reproductions of pictures and drawings by Kandinsky. For Cubism cf. Gleizes et Metzinger, “du Cubisme,” and Guillaume Apollinaire, “Les Peintres Cubistes.” Collection Les Arts. Paris, Figuiere, per vol. 3 fr. 50 c. Picture II, Gnomus 1928 Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France [image: img289.jpg] Improvisation 10 1910 120 x 140 cm Collection Ernst Beyeler, Bazel, Switzerland [image: img207.jpg] Couple Riding 1906 55 x 50.5 cm Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, German [image: img146.jpg] Crinolines 1909 96.3 x 128.5 cm Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia [image: img170.jpg] [image: img57.jpg] Detail Drawing for Etching II 1916 24.8 x 19 cm Private Collection [image: img242.jpg] [image: img20.jpg] [image: img75.jpg] Detail Grouping 1937 146 x 88 cm Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden [image: img316.jpg] [image: img48.jpg] Untitled 1941 48.1 x 31.2 cm Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA [image: img324.jpg] In Blue 1925 80 x 110 cm Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Germany [image: img278.jpg] Night 1907 29.8 x 49.8 cm Gabrielle Munter Foundation [image: img154.jpg] Study for “Composition VII” 1913 78 x 101.5 cm [image: img234.jpg] [image: img54.jpg] CEMETERY AND VICARAGE IN KOCHEL [image: img8.png] Completed in 1909 and housed in the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, this canvas was painted in the district of Bad Tolz-Wolfratshausen in Bavaria on the shores of Kochelsee. Kochel was the home of Kandinsky’s friend and fellow Expressionist painter Franz Marc, with whom he had established Der Blaue Reiter Movement in 1911. The image portrays a wintry scene of the town’s cemetery and vicarage, with snow and blue shadows on the ground. The influence of Marc’s vivid colouring is evident in the painting, while once again loose brushstroke can be clearly seen, as the houses and buildings seem only tentatively to maintain their forms. A patch of plants in the right foreground is covered with snow, diverting our attention from the dull earthy colours of the buildings. Mountain Landscape with Church 1910 32.7 x 44.8 cm Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, German [image: img197.jpg] The Singer 1903 19.5 x 14.5 cm Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, German [image: img136.jpg] The Golden Sail 1903 12.7 x 29.7 cm Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, German [image: img135.jpg] [image: img61.jpg] Detail Capricious 1930 40.5 x 56 cm Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands [image: img296.jpg] Landscape with Rain 1913 70 x 78 cm Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA [image: img236.jpg] Untitled (First Abstract Watercolour) 1910 188 x 196 cm Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France [image: img204.jpg] YELLOW-RED-BLUE [image: img8.png] In 1925, Kandinsky was teaching the basic design class for beginners and the course on advanced theory at the Bauhaus. The artist also conducted painting classes and a workshop in which he was constructing his colour theory with new elements of form psychology. The development of his works on forms study, particularly on points and line forms, was to lead to the publication of Point and Line to Plane. At this intensely productive time of his career, geometrical elements took on increasing importance in both his teaching and painting, particularly the circle, half-circle, the angle, straight lines and curves. This freedom is characterised in his works by the treatment of planes rich in colours and gradations - as demonstrated in the 1925 canvas Yellow-Red-Blue, where Kandinsky illustrates his distance from the constructivism and suprematism movements influential at the time. The painting employs the primary colours within squares, circles and triangles, while also blending abstract shapes in the composition. Yellow-Red-Blue can be viewed as composition of two halves, with the left side featuring rectangles, squares and straight lines in bright colours, while the right side presents darker tones in various abstract shapes. These two sides evoke different impressions, altering our perception of the work. It is a large, two-meter-wide canvas, consisting of several main forms: a vertical yellow rectangle, an inclined red cross and a large dark blue circle; a multitude of straight and sinuous black lines, circular arcs, monochromatic circles and scattered, coloured checkerboards, contributing to its delicate complexity. The theme of the primary colours addressed in the title was a major part of Kandinsky’s Preliminary Course at the Bauhaus, covering the analysis of yellow, red and blue, as well as their assignment of the primary geometric shapes of triangle, square and circle. Moscow; Smolensky Boulevard. Study 1916 Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia [image: img244.jpg] [image: img25.jpg] The members of the Blue Rider group on the balcony of Kandinsky’s apartment at Ainmillerstraße 36, Munich, 191. From left to right: Maria Marc, Franz Marc, Bernhard Koehler Sr., Wassily Kandinsky (seated), Heinrich Campendonk and Thomas von Hartmann. Picture with Archer 1909 177 x 147 cm Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA [image: img180.jpg] [image: img42.png] Murnau today TEMPERED ELAN [image: img8.png] Kandinsky faced much upheaval and certainty in his final years. When becoming a German citizen, he had surrendered any claim to works left in Russia at great financial loss. The fateful developments in Germany, the closing of the Bauhaus and the branding of abstract art as ‘degenerate’ were all painful experiences for him. The last few years of the artist’s life were surrounded by war. Living in German occupied Paris during World War II, artists found it difficult to find supplies like canvas and oil paints, since materials were scarce. Kandinsky painted Tempered Elan (1944) on cardboard and it was to be his last canvas, before dying that same year of arteriosclerosis. As a French citizen, Kandinsky had lived a quiet life in spite of the war, painting small works that used less materials. The war prevented his ability to exhibit and sell art, and so the success he had enjoyed in Russia and Germany had not followed him to France. He died unhappily, unable to see the triumph of abstract art when the war ended. Had he lived, Kandinsky would have seen his works being bought up by the great museums of the world for large sums of money and, more importantly, he would have known that he had helped establish a new form of art as the founder and developer of abstract art. Tempered Elan varies greatly from Kandinsky’s earlier compositions, though many have identified the reappearance of the rider motif, enclosed in a shape in the lower right centre of the image. More mysterious is the angel shaped figure in the upper left corner, invoking a spiritual and fitting theme to what would be the artist’s final work before his death. The painting once again features the organic shapes, similar to minuscule microbes that were being newly discovered by scientists with microscopes at that time. However, the fusion of primary colours is gone and instead we are left with a dull and inspiring grey, somewhat lifeless palette. The shapes too appear more insect-like, sluggish and brittle. A sense of the artist’s end comes upon on us in more ways than in one. White Line 1936 49.9 x 38.7 cm Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France [image: img314.jpg] White Line 1920 90 x 80 cm Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany [image: img255.png] Improvisation 6 (African) 1909 107 x 99.5 cm Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, German [image: img176.jpg] Black-Red 1928 55.8 x 44.8 cm Musée des Beaux-Arts, Grenoble, France [image: img286.jpg] Picture with a Black Arch 1912 193.3 x 186 cm Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France [image: img220.jpg] Untitled 1944 44 x 58 cm Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France [image: img336.jpg] Small Dream in Red 1925 35.5 x 41.2 cm Bern Kunstmuseum, Switzerland [image: img279.jpg] Points 1920 Ohara Museum of Art, Kurashiki, Japan [image: img253.jpg] Improvisation. Gorge 1914 110 x 110 cm Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, German [image: img238.jpg] [image: img67.jpg] Detail Improvisation 19 1911 120 x 141.5 cm Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, German [image: img214.jpg] Painting on Light Ground 1916 Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France [image: img246.jpg] Fugue 1914 129.5 x 129.5 cm Collection Ernst Beyeler, Bazel, Switzerland [image: img237.jpg] Blue Segment 1921 Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA [image: img256.jpg] Black Strokes I 1913 131.1 x 129.4 cm Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA [image: img223.jpg] [image: img32.jpg] [image: img39.jpg] Detail Two Riders and Reclining Figure c.1910 [image: img203.jpg] Compensation Rose 1933 96 x 106 cm musée des Beaux Arts, Nantes, France [image: img303.jpg] Storeys 1929 56 x 41 cm Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA [image: img293.jpg] [image: img79.jpg] Detail [image: img53.png] A woodcut from Klänge (1911) First Abstract Watercolour 1910 49.6 x 64.8 cm Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France [image: img190.jpg] Houses at Murnau 1909 Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA [image: img174.jpg] PORTRAIT OF GABRIELE MÜNTER [image: img8.png] Gabriele Münter (1877-1962) was a German expressionist painter at the forefront of the Munich avant-garde in the early 20th century. She came from an upper middle-class background and her parents supported her wish to become an artist. Münter took classes at Munich’s progressive new Phalanx School, where she studied woodcut techniques, sculpture, painting and printmaking. Soon after she began taking classes, Münter became attached to Kandinsky, who was the Phalanx School’s director. He was the first teacher that had actually taken Münter’s painting abilities seriously. In the summer of 1902, Kandinsky invited her to join him at his summer painting classes just south of Munich in the Alps. She accepted and their relationship became intimate. Kandinsky and Münter’s professional and personal relationship lasted for twelve years and Kandinsky was married while he was with Münter. They spent a great deal of time together travelling through Europe, including Holland, Italy and France, as well as North Africa. It was during this time that they met Rousseau and Matisse. Münter and Kandinsky fell in love with the village of Murnau in southern Bavaria. Later on, Münter bought a house in this city and spent much of her life there. Together, they helped establish the Munich-based avant-garde group called the New Artists’ Association. This 1905 portrait of Gabriele Münter, now housed in Munich’s Stadtische Galerie, is a particularly personal depiction of the artist’s lover. The subject looks challengingly at the viewer, a hint of a smile on her lips, while her eyes hint at a more sombre emotion. Thick brushstrokes delineate her white garment, once again stressing Kandinsky’s early interest with Impressionism. The limited background detail helps to serve as a foil to the lucent skin and detailed shadowing of the sitter’s face. Oddly, the focal point of the composition is a large bow worn by Münter, which is also depicted with large blue brushstrokes, exerting a dominating shadow around its border. [image: img342.png] Neuilly-sur-Seine New Communal Cemetery, Île-de-France — Kandinsky’s final resting place Last Watercolour 1944 26 x 35 cm [image: img335.jpg] Black Relationship 1924 36.8 x 36.2 cm Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA [image: img276.jpg] Munich-Schwabing with the Church of St. Ursula 1908 68.8 x 49 cm Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, German [image: img159.jpg] [image: img84.jpg] The main building of the Bauhaus-University Weimar (built 1904–1911), designed by Henry van de Velde TRANSLATOR’S INTRODUCTION It is no common thing to find an artist who, even if he be willing to try, is capable of expressing his aims and ideals with any clearness and moderation. Some people will say that any such capacity is a flaw in the perfect artist, who should find his expression in line and colour, and leave the multitude to grope its way unaided towards comprehension. This attitude is a relic of the days when “l’art pour l’art” was the latest battle cry; when eccentricity of manner and irregularity of life were more important than any talent to the would-be artist; when every one except oneself was bourgeois. The last few years have in some measure removed this absurdity, by destroying the old convention that it was middle-class to be sane, and that between the artist and the outer-world yawned a gulf which few could cross. Modern artists are beginning to realize their social duties. They are the spiritual teachers of the world, and for their teaching to have weight, it must be comprehensible. Any attempt, therefore, to bring artist and public into sympathy, to enable the latter to understand the ideals of the former, should be thoroughly welcome; and such an attempt is this book of Kandinsky’s. The author is one of the leaders of the new art movement in Munich. The group of which he is a member includes painters, poets, musicians, dramatists, critics, all working to the same end — the expression of the SOUL of nature and humanity, or, as Kandinsky terms it, the INNERER KLANG. Perhaps the fault of this book of theory — or rather the characteristic most likely to give cause for attack — is the tendency to verbosity. Philosophy, especially in the hands of a writer of German, presents inexhaustible opportunities for vague and grandiloquent language. Partly for this reason, partly from incompetence, I have not primarily attempted to deal with the philosophical basis of Kandinsky’s art. Some, probably, will find in this aspect of the book its chief interest, but better service will be done to the author’s ideas by leaving them to the reader’s judgement than by even the most expert criticism. The power of a book to excite argument is often the best proof of its value, and my own experience has always been that those new ideas are at once most challenging and most stimulating which come direct from their author, with no intermediate discussion. The task undertaken in this Introduction is a humbler but perhaps a more necessary one. England, throughout her history, has shown scant respect for sudden spasms of theory. Whether in politics, religion, or art, she demands an historical foundation for every belief, and when such a foundation is not forthcoming she may smile indulgently, but serious interest is immediately withdrawn. I am keenly anxious that Kandinsky’s art should not suffer this fate. My personal belief in his sincerity and the future of his ideas will go for very little, but if it can be shown that he is a reasonable development of what we regard as serious art, that he is no adventurer striving for a momentary notoriety by the strangeness of his beliefs, then there is a chance that some people at least will give his art fair consideration, and that, of these people, a few will come to love it as, in my opinion, it deserves. Post-Impressionism, that vague and much-abused term, is now almost a household word. That the name of the movement is better known than the names of its chief leaders is a sad misfortune, largely caused by the over-rapidity of its introduction into England. Within the space of two short years a mass of artists from Manet to the most recent of Cubists were thrust on a public, who had hardly realized Impressionism. The inevitable result has been complete mental chaos. The tradition of which true Post-Impressionism is the modern expression has been kept alive down the ages of European art by scattered and, until lately, neglected painters. But not since the time of the so-called Byzantines, not since the period of which Giotto and his School were the final splendid blossoming, has the “Symbolist” ideal in art held general sway over the “Naturalist.” The Primitive Italians, like their predecessors the Primitive Greeks, and, in turn, their predecessors the Egyptians, sought to express the inner feeling rather than the outer reality. This ideal tended to be lost to sight in the naturalistic revival of the Renaissance, which derived its inspiration solely from those periods of Greek and Roman art which were pre-occupied with the expression of external reality. Although the all-embracing genius of Michelangelo kept the “Symbolist” tradition alive, it is the work of El Greco that merits the complete title of “Symbolist.” From El Greco springs Goya and the Spanish influence on Daumier and Manet. When it is remembered that, in the meantime, Rembrandt and his contemporaries, notably Brouwer, left their mark on French art in the work of Delacroix, Decamps and Courbet, the way will be seen clearly open to Cezanne and Gauguin. The phrase “symbolist tradition” is not used to express any conscious affinity between the various generations of artists. As Kandinsky says: “the relationships in art are not necessarily ones of outward form, but are founded on inner sympathy of meaning.” Sometimes, perhaps frequently, a similarity of outward form will appear. But in tracing spiritual relationship only inner meaning must be taken into account. There are, of course, many people who deny that Primitive Art had an inner meaning or, rather, that what is called “archaic expression” was dictated by anything but ignorance of representative methods and defective materials. Such people are numbered among the bitterest opponents of Post-Impressionism, and indeed it is difficult to see how they could be otherwise. “Painting,” they say, “which seeks to learn from an age when art was, however sincere, incompetent and uneducated, deliberately rejects the knowledge and skill of centuries.” It will be no easy matter to conquer this assumption that Primitive art is merely untrained Naturalism, but until it is conquered there seems little hope for a sympathetic understanding of the symbolist ideal. The task is all the more difficult because of the analogy drawn by friends of the new movement between the neo-primitive vision and that of a child. That the analogy contains a grain of truth does not make it the less mischievous. Freshness of vision the child has, and freshness of vision is an important element in the new movement. But beyond this a parallel is non-existent, must be non-existent in any art other than pure artificiality. It is one thing to ape ineptitude in technique and another to acquire simplicity of vision. Simplicity — or rather discrimination of vision — is the trademark of the true Post-Impressionist. He OBSERVES and then SELECTS what is essential. The result is a logical and very sophisticated synthesis. Such a synthesis will find expression in simple and even harsh technique. But the process can only come AFTER the naturalist process and not before it. The child has a direct vision, because his mind is unencumbered by association and because his power of concentration is unimpaired by a multiplicity of interests. His method of drawing is immature; its variations from the ordinary result from lack of capacity. Two examples will make my meaning clearer. The child draws a landscape. His picture contains one or two objects only from the number before his eyes. These are the objects which strike him as important. So far, good. But there is no relation between them; they stand isolated on his paper, mere lumpish shapes. The Post-Impressionist, however, selects his objects with a view to expressing by their means the whole feeling of the landscape. His choice falls on elements which sum up the whole, not those which first attract immediate attention. Again, let us take the case of the definitely religious picture. [Footnote: Religion, in the sense of awe, is present in all true art. But here I use the term in the narrower sense to mean pictures of which the subject is connected with Christian or other worship.] It is not often that children draw religious scenes. More often battles and pageants attract them. But since the revival of the religious picture is so noticeable a factor in the new movement, since the Byzantines painted almost entirely religious subjects, and finally, since a book of such drawings by a child of twelve has recently been published, I prefer to take them as my example. Daphne Alien’s religious drawings have the graceful charm of childhood, but they are mere childish echoes of conventional prettiness. Her talent, when mature, will turn to the charming rather than to the vigorous. There could be no greater contrast between such drawing and that of — say — Cimabue. Cimabue’s Madonnas are not pretty women, but huge, solemn symbols. Their heads droop stiffly; their tenderness is universal. In Gauguin’s “Agony in the Garden” the figure of Christ is haggard with pain and grief. These artists have filled their pictures with a bitter experience which no child can possibly possess. I repeat, therefore, that the analogy between Post-Impressionism and child-art is a false analogy, and that for a trained man or woman to paint as a child paints is an impossibility. [Footnote: I am well aware that this statement is at variance with Kandinsky, who has contributed a long article— “Uber die Formfrage” — to Der Blaue Reiter, in which he argues the parallel between Post-Impressionism and child vision, as exemplified in the work of Henri Rousseau. Certainly Rousseau’s vision is childlike. He has had no artistic training and pretends to none. But I consider that his art suffers so greatly from his lack of training, that beyond a sentimental interest it has little to recommend it.] All this does not presume to say that the “symbolist” school of art is necessarily nobler than the “naturalist.” I am making no comparison, only a distinction. When the difference in aim is fully realized, the Primitives can no longer be condemned as incompetent, nor the moderns as lunatics, for such a condemnation is made from a wrong point of view. Judgement must be passed, not on the failure to achieve “naturalism” but on the failure to express the inner meaning. The brief historical survey attempted above ended with the names of Cezanne and Gauguin, and for the purposes of this Introduction, for the purpose, that is to say, of tracing the genealogy of the Cubists and of Kandinsky, these two names may be taken to represent the modern expression of the “symbolist” tradition. The difference between them is subtle but goes very deep. For both the ultimate and internal significance of what they painted counted for more than the significance which is momentary and external. Cezanne saw in a tree, a heap of apples, a human face, a group of bathing men or women, something more abiding than either photography or impressionist painting could present. He painted the “treeness” of the tree, as a modern critic has admirably expressed it. But in everything he did he showed the architectural mind of the true Frenchman. His landscape studies were based on a profound sense of the structure of rocks and hills, and being structural, his art depends essentially on reality. Though he did not scruple, and rightly, to sacrifice accuracy of form to the inner need, the material of which his art was composed was drawn from the huge stores of actual nature. Gauguin has greater solemnity and fire than Cezanne. His pictures are tragic or passionate poems. He also sacrifices conventional form to inner expression, but his art tends ever towards the spiritual, towards that profounder emphasis which cannot be expressed in natural objects nor in words. True his abandonment of representative methods did not lead him to an abandonment of natural terms of expression — that is to say human figures, trees and animals do appear in his pictures. But that he was much nearer a complete rejection of representation than was Cezanne is shown by the course followed by their respective disciples. The generation immediately subsequent to Cezanne, Herbin, Vlaminck, Friesz, Marquet, etc., do little more than exaggerate Cezanne’s technique, until there appear the first signs of Cubism. These are seen very clearly in Herbin. Objects begin to be treated in flat planes. A round vase is represented by a series of planes set one into the other, which at a distance blend into a curve. This is the first stage. The real plunge into Cubism was taken by Picasso, who, nurtured on Cezanne, carried to its perfectly logical conclusion the master’s structural treatment of nature. Representation disappears. Starting from a single natural object, Picasso and the Cubists produce lines and project angles till their canvases are covered with intricate and often very beautiful series of balanced lines and curves. They persist, however, in giving them picture titles which recall the natural object from which their minds first took flight. With Gauguin the case is different. The generation of his disciples which followed him — I put it thus to distinguish them from his actual pupils at Pont Aven, Serusier and the rest — carried the tendency further. One hesitates to mention Derain, for his beginnings, full of vitality and promise, have given place to a dreary compromise with Cubism, without visible future, and above all without humour. But there is no better example of the development of synthetic symbolism than his first book of woodcuts. [Footnote: L’Enchanteur pourrissant, par Guillaume Apollinaire, avec illustrations gravees sur bois par Andre Derain. Paris, Kahnweiler, 1910.] Here is work which keeps the merest semblance of conventional form, which gives its effect by startling masses of black and white, by sudden curves, but more frequently by sudden angles. [Footnote: The renaissance of the angle in art is an interesting feature of the new movement. Not since Egyptian times has it been used with such noble effect. There is a painting of Gauguin’s at Hagen, of a row of Tahitian women seated on a bench, that consists entirely of a telling design in Egyptian angles. Cubism is the result of this discovery of the angle, blended with the influence of Cezanne.] In the process of the gradual abandonment of natural form the “angle” school is paralleled by the “curve” school, which also descends wholly from Gauguin. The best known representative is Maurice Denis. But he has become a slave to sentimentality, and has been left behind. Matisse is the most prominent French artist who has followed Gauguin with curves. In Germany a group of young men, who form the Neue Kunstlevereinigung in Munich, work almost entirely in sweeping curves, and have reduced natural objects purely to flowing, decorative units. But while they have followed Gauguin’s lead in abandoning representation both of these two groups of advance are lacking in spiritual meaning. Their aim becomes more and more decorative, with an undercurrent of suggestion of simplified form. Anyone who has studied Gauguin will be aware of the intense spiritual value of his work. The man is a preacher and a psychologist, universal by his very unorthodoxy, fundamental because he goes deeper than civilization. In his disciples this great element is wanting. Kandinsky has supplied the need. He is not only on the track of an art more purely spiritual than was conceived even by Gauguin, but he has achieved the final abandonment of all representative intention. In this way he combines in himself the spiritual and technical tendencies of one great branch of Post-Impressionism. The question most generally asked about Kandinsky’s art is: “What is he trying to do?” It is to be hoped that this book will do something towards answering the question. But it will not do everything. This — partly because it is impossible to put into words the whole of Kandinsky’s ideal, partly because in his anxiety to state his case, to court criticism, the author has been tempted to formulate more than is wise. His analysis of colours and their effects on the spectator is not the real basis of his art, because, if it were, one could, with the help of a scientific manual, describe one’s emotions before his pictures with perfect accuracy. And this is impossible. Kandinsky is painting music. That is to say, he has broken down the barrier between music and painting, and has isolated the pure emotion which, for want of a better name, we call the artistic emotion. Anyone who has listened to good music with any enjoyment will admit to an unmistakable but quite indefinable thrill. He will not be able, with sincerity, to say that such a passage gave him such visual impressions, or such a harmony roused in him such emotions. The effect of music is too subtle for words. And the same with this painting of Kandinsky’s. Speaking for myself, to stand in front of some of his drawings or pictures gives a keener and more spiritual pleasure than any other kind of painting. But I could not express in the least what gives the pleasure. Presumably the lines and colours have the same effect as harmony and rhythm in music have on the truly musical. That psychology comes in no one can deny. Many people — perhaps at present the very large majority of people — have their colour-music sense dormant. It has never been exercised. In the same way many people are unmusical — either wholly, by nature, or partly, for lack of experience. Even when Kandinsky’s idea is universally understood there may be many who are not moved by his melody. For my part, something within me answered to Kandinsky’s art the first time I met with it. There was no question of looking for representation; a harmony had been set up, and that was enough. Of course colour-music is no new idea. That is to say attempts have been made to play compositions in colour, by flashes and harmonies. [Footnote: Cf. “Colour Music,” by A. Wallace Rimington. Hutchinson. 6s. net.] Also music has been interpreted in colour. But I do not know of any previous attempt to paint, without any reference to music, compositions which shall have on the spectator an effect wholly divorced from representative association. Kandinsky refers to attempts to paint in colour-counterpoint. But that is a different matter, in that it is the borrowing from one art by another of purely technical methods, without a previous impulse from spiritual sympathy. One is faced then with the conflicting claims of Picasso and Kandinsky to the position of true leader of non-representative art. Picasso’s admirers hail him, just as this Introduction hails Kandinsky, as a visual musician. The methods and ideas of each rival are so different that the title cannot be accorded to both. In his book, Kandinsky states his opinion of Cubism and its fatal weakness, and history goes to support his contention. The origin of Cubism in Cezanne, in a structural art that owes its very existence to matter, makes its claim to pure emotionalism seem untenable. Emotions are not composed of strata and conflicting pressures. Once abandon reality and the geometrical vision becomes abstract mathematics. It seems to me that Picasso shares a Futurist error when he endeavours to harmonize one item of reality — a number, a button, a few capital letters — with a surrounding aura of angular projections. There must be a conflict of impressions, which differ essentially in quality. One trend of modern music is towards realism of sound. Children cry, dogs bark, plates are broken. Picasso approaches the same goal from the opposite direction. It is as though he were trying to work from realism to music. The waste of time is, to my mind, equally complete in both cases. The power of music to give expression without the help of representation is its noblest possession. No painting has ever had such a precious power. Kandinsky is striving to give it that power, and prove what is at least the logical analogy between colour and sound, between line and rhythm of beat. Picasso makes little use of colour, and confines himself only to one series of line effects — those caused by conflicting angles. So his aim is smaller and more limited than Kandinsky’s even if it is as reasonable. But because it has not wholly abandoned realism but uses for the painting of feeling a structural vision dependent for its value on the association of reality, because in so doing it tries to make the best of two worlds, there seems little hope for it of redemption in either. As has been said above, Picasso and Kandinsky make an interesting parallel, in that they have developed the art respectively of Cezanne and Gauguin, in a similar direction. On the decision of Picasso’s failure or success rests the distinction between Cezanne and Gauguin, the realist and the symbolist, the painter of externals and the painter of religious feeling. Unless a spiritual value is accorded to Cezanne’s work, unless he is believed to be a religious painter (and religious painters need not paint Madonnas), unless in fact he is paralleled closely with Gauguin, his follower Picasso cannot claim to stand, with Kandinsky, as a prophet of an art of spiritual harmony. If Kandinsky ever attains his ideal — for he is the first to admit that he has not yet reached his goal — if he ever succeeds in finding a common language of colour and line which shall stand alone as the language of sound and beat stands alone, without recourse to natural form or representation, he will on all hands be hailed as a great innovator, as a champion of the freedom of art. Until such time, it is the duty of those to whom his work has spoken, to bear their testimony. Otherwise he may be condemned as one who has invented a shorthand of his own, and who paints pictures which cannot be understood by those who have not the key of the cipher. In the meantime also it is important that his position should be recognized as a legitimate, almost inevitable outcome of Post-Impressionist tendencies. Such is the recognition this Introduction strives to secure. MICHAEL T. H. SADLER COLOURFUL ENSEMBLE [image: img8.png] Completed in 1938, this important painting breaks down the strict and organised compositional structure established in Kandinsky’s other paintings of the late 1930’s. A variety of colourful protuberances are presented as geometrical forms amongst an assortment of mythical creature motifs. The shapes are held in check by a surrounding blue border, like a constellation held within a microcosm. Colourful Ensemble has been analysed as representing the presentation of both fluid and geometric styles, and harmonic chaos-attributes of the post-World War I movement. The primary colours of red, yellow and blue are the most prevalent shades of the figures. The boldness of the coloured shapes contrasts with the overall black background. The tiny dots are perfect circles, as Kandinsky was fond of using a compass. The name of the painting and the many musical instrument-like shapes within the main figure demonstrate Kandinsky’s musical influence and inspiration. Kochel Graveyard 1910 [image: img205.jpg] [image: img13.jpg] The Port of Odessa today [image: img34.jpg] Detail LYRICAL [image: img8.png] Housed in Rotterdam’s Museum Boymans-van-Beuningen, this 1911 oil painting reprises the theme of a rider and horse. In the same year Kandinsky published Klänge (Sounds), consisting of thirty-eight prose-poems, which he wrote between 1909 and 1911 and illustrated with fifty-six woodcuts. In the woodcuts Kandinsky veiled his subject matter, creating increasingly indecipherable images, though the horse and rider was his recurring symbol for overcoming objective representation. The 1911 oil painting Lyrical is similar to one of the woodcuts in Klänge, in which Kandinsky has rendered this horse and rider at full gallop with the most minimal of means. Using only a few well placed lines and patches of colour, the familiar leitmotif is created. The artist attains a synthesis of emotion and intellect through his free use of form, line and colour. III. SPIRITUAL REVOLUTION The spiritual triangle moves slowly onwards and upwards. Today one of the largest of the lower segments has reached the point of using the first battle cry of the materialist creed. The dwellers in this segment group themselves round various banners in religion. They call themselves Jews, Catholics, Protestants, etc. But they are really atheists, and this a few either of the boldest or the narrowest openly avow. “Heaven is empty,” “God is dead.” In politics these people are democrats and republicans. The fear, horror and hatred which yesterday they felt for these political creeds they now direct against anarchism, of which they know nothing but its much dreaded name. In economics these people are Socialists. They make sharp the sword of justice with which to slay the hydra of capitalism and to hew off the head of evil. Because the inhabitants of this great segment of the triangle have never solved any problem independently, but are dragged as it were in a cart by those the noblest of their fellowmen who have sacrificed themselves, they know nothing of the vital impulse of life which they regard always vaguely from a great distance. They rate this impulse lightly, putting their trust in purposeless theory and in the working of some logical method. The men of the segment next below are dragged slowly higher, blindly, by those just described. But they cling to their old position, full of dread of the unknown and of betrayal. The higher segments are not only blind atheists but can justify their godlessness with strange words; for example, those of Virchow — so unworthy of a learned man— “I have dissected many corpses, but never yet discovered a soul in any of them.” In politics they are generally republican, with a knowledge of different parliamentary procedures; they read the political leading articles in the newspapers. In economics they are socialists of various grades, and can support their “principles” with numerous quotations, passing from Schweitzer’s EMMA via Lasalle’s IRON LAW OF WAGES, to Marx’s CAPITAL, and still further. In these loftier segments other categories of ideas, absent in these just described, begin gradually to appear — science and art, to which last belong also literature and music. In science these men are positivists, only recognizing those things that can be weighed and measured. Anything beyond that they consider as rather discreditable nonsense, that same nonsense about which they held yesterday the theories that today are proven. In art they are naturalists, which means that they recognize and value the personality, individuality and temperament of the artist up to a certain definite point. This point has been fixed by others, and in it they believe unflinchingly. But despite their patent and well-ordered security, despite their infallible principles, there lurks in these higher segments a hidden fear, a nervous trembling, a sense of insecurity. And this is due to their upbringing. They know that the sages, statesmen and artists whom today they revere, were yesterday spurned as swindlers and charlatans. And the higher the segment in the triangle, the better defined is this fear, this modern sense of insecurity. Here and there are people with eyes which can see, minds which can correlate. They say to themselves: “If the science of the day before yesterday is rejected by the people of yesterday, and that of yesterday by us of today, is it not possible that what we call science now will be rejected by the men of tomorrow?” And the bravest of them answer, “It is possible.” Then people appear who can distinguish those problems that the science of today has not yet explained. And they ask themselves: “Will science, if it continues on the road it has followed for so long, ever attain to the solution of these problems? And if it does so attain, will men be able to rely on its solution?” In these segments are also professional men of learning who can remember the time when facts now recognized by the Academies as firmly established, were scorned by those same Academies. There are also philosophers of aesthetic who write profound books about an art which was yesterday condemned as nonsense. In writing these books they remove the barriers over which art has most recently stepped and set up new ones which are to remain for ever in the places they have chosen. They do not notice that they are busy erecting barriers, not in front of art, but behind it. And if they do notice this, on the morrow they merely write fresh books and hastily set their barriers a little further on. This performance will go on unaltered until it is realized that the most extreme principle of aesthetic can never be of value to the future, but only to the past. No such theory of principle can be laid down for those things which lie beyond, in the realm of the immaterial. That which has no material existence cannot be subjected to a material classification. That which belongs to the spirit of the future can only be realized in feeling, and to this feeling the talent of the artist is the only road. Theory is the lamp which sheds light on the petrified ideas of yesterday and of the more distant past. [Footnote: Cf. Chapter VII.] And as we rise higher in the triangle we find that the uneasiness increases, as a city built on the most correct architectural plan may be shaken suddenly by the uncontrollable force of nature. Humanity is living in such a spiritual city, subject to these sudden disturbances for which neither architects nor mathematicians have made allowance. In one place lies a great wall crumbled to pieces like a card house, in another are the ruins of a huge tower which once stretched to heaven, built on many presumably immortal spiritual pillars. The abandoned churchyard quakes and forgotten graves open and from them rise forgotten ghosts. Spots appear on the sun and the sun grows dark, and what theory can fight with darkness? And in this city live also men deafened by false wisdom who hear no crash, and blinded by false wisdom, so that they say “our sun will shine more brightly than ever and soon the last spots will disappear.” But sometime even these men will hear and see. But when we get still higher there is no longer this bewilderment. There work is going on which boldly attacks those pillars which men have set up. There we find other professional men of learning who test matter again and again, who tremble before no problem, and who finally cast doubt on that very matter which was yesterday the foundation of everything, so that the whole universe is shaken. Every day another scientific theory finds bold discoverers who overstep the boundaries of prophecy and, forgetful of themselves, join the other soldiers in the conquest of some new summit and in the hopeless attack on some stubborn fortress. But “there is no fortress that man cannot overcome.” On the one hand, FACTS are being established which the science of yesterday dubbed swindles. Even newspapers, which are for the most part the most obsequious servants of worldly success and of the mob, and which trim their sails to every wind, find themselves compelled to modify their ironical judgements on the “marvels” of science and even to abandon them altogether. Various learned men, among them ultra-materialists, dedicate their strength to the scientific research of doubtful problems, which can no longer be lied about or passed over in silence. [Footnote: Zoller, Wagner, Butleroff (St. Petersburg), Crookes (London), etc.; later on, C. H. Richet, C. Flammarion. The Parisian paper Le Matin, published about two years ago the discoveries of the two last named under the title “Je le constate, mais je ne l’explique pas.” Finally there are C. Lombroso, the inventor of the anthropological method of diagnosing crime, and Eusapio Palladino.] On the other hand, the number is increasing of those men who put no trust in the methods of materialistic science when it deals with those questions which have to do with “non-matter,” or matter which is not accessible to our minds. Just as art is looking for help from the primitives, so these men are turning to half-forgotten times in order to get help from their half-forgotten methods. However, these very methods are still alive and in use among nations whom we, from the height of our knowledge, have been accustomed to regard with pity and scorn. To such nations belong the Indians, who from time to time confront those learned in our civilization with problems which we have either passed by unnoticed or brushed aside with superficial words and explanations. [Footnote: Frequently in such cases use is made of the word hypnotism; that same hypnotism which, in its earlier form of mesmerism, was disdainfully put aside by various learned bodies.] Mme. Blavatsky was the first person, after a life of many years in India, to see a connection between these “savages” and our “civilization.” From that moment there began a tremendous spiritual movement which today includes a large number of people and has even assumed a material form in the THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY. This society consists of groups who seek to approach the problem of the spirit by way of the INNER knowledge. The theory of Theosophy which serves as the basis to this movement was set out by Blavatsky in the form of a catechism in which the pupil receives definite answers to his questions from the theosophical point of view. [Footnote: E. P. Blavatsky, The Key of Theosophy, London, 1889.] Theosophy, according to Blavatsky, is synonymous with ETERNAL TRUTH. “The new torchbearer of truth will find the minds of men prepared for his message, a language ready for him in which to clothe the new truths he brings, an organization awaiting his arrival, which will remove the merely mechanical, material obstacles and difficulties from his path.” And then Blavatsky continues: “The earth will be a heaven in the twenty-first century in comparison with what it is now,” and with these words ends her book. When religion, science and morality are shaken, the two last by the strong hand of Nietzsche, and when the outer supports threaten to fall, man turns his gaze from externals in on to himself. Literature, music and art are the first and most sensitive spheres in which this spiritual revolution makes itself felt. They reflect the dark picture of the present time and show the importance of what at first was only a little point of light noticed by few and for the great majority non-existent. Perhaps they even grow dark in their turn, but on the other hand they turn away from the soulless life of the present towards those substances and ideas which give free scope to the non-material strivings of the soul. A poet of this kind in the realm of literature is Maeterlinck. He takes us into a world which, rightly or wrongly, we term supernatural. La Princesse Maleine, Les Sept Princesses, Les Aveugles, etc., are not people of past times as are the heroes in Shakespeare. They are merely souls lost in the clouds, threatened by them with death, eternally menaced by some invisible and sombre power. Spiritual darkness, the insecurity of ignorance and fear pervade the world in which they move. Maeterlinck is perhaps one of the first prophets, one of the first artistic reformers and seers to herald the end of the decadence just described. The gloom of the spiritual atmosphere, the terrible, but all-guiding hand, the sense of utter fear, the feeling of having strayed from the path, the confusion among the guides, all these are clearly felt in his works.[Footnote: To the front tank of such seers of the decadence belongs also Alfred Kubin. With irresistible force both Kubin’s drawings and also his novel “Die Andere Seite” seem to engulf us in the terrible atmosphere of empty desolation.] This atmosphere Maeterlinck creates principally by purely artistic means. His material machinery (gloomy mountains, moonlight, marshes, wind, the cries of owls, etc.) plays really a symbolic role and helps to give the inner note. [Footnote: When one of Maeterlinck’s plays was produced in St. Petersburg under his own guidance, he himself at one of the rehearsals had a tower represented by a plain piece of hanging linen. It was of no importance to him to have elaborate scenery prepared. He did as children, the greatest imaginers of all time, always do in their games; for they use a stick for a horse or create entire regiments of cavalry out of chalks. And in the same way a chalk with a notch in it is changed from a knight into a horse. On similar lines the imagination of the spectator plays in the modern theatre, and especially in that of Russia, an important part. And this is a notable element in the transition from the material to the spiritual in the theatre of the future.] Maeterlinck’s principal technical weapon is his use of words. The word may express an inner harmony. This inner harmony springs partly, perhaps principally, from the object which it names. But if the object is not itself seen, but only its name heard, the mind of the hearer receives an abstract impression only, that is to say as of the object dematerialized, and a corresponding vibration is immediately set up in the HEART. The apt use of a word (in its poetical meaning), repetition of this word, twice, three times or even more frequently, according to the need of the poem, will not only tend to intensify the inner harmony but also bring to light unsuspected spiritual properties of the word itself. Further than that, frequent repetition of a word (again a favourite game of children, which is forgotten in after life) deprives the word of its original external meaning. Similarly, in drawing, the abstract message of the object drawn tends to be forgotten and its meaning lost. Sometimes perhaps we unconsciously hear this real harmony sounding together with the material or later on with the non-material sense of the object. But in the latter case the true harmony exercises a direct impression on the soul. The soul undergoes an emotion which has no relation to any definite object, an emotion more complicated, I might say more super-sensuous than the emotion caused by the sound of a bell or of a stringed instrument. This line of development offers great possibilities to the literature of the future. In an embryonic form this word-power-has already been used in SERRES CHAUDES. [Footnote: SERRES CHAUDES, SUIVIES DE QUINZE CHANSONS, par Maurice Maeterlinck. Brussels. Lacomblez.] As Maeterlinck uses them, words which seem at first to create only a neutral impression have really a more subtle value. Even a familiar word like “hair,” if used in a certain way can intensify an atmosphere of sorrow or despair. And this is Maeterlinck’s method. He shows that thunder, lightning and a moon behind driving clouds, in themselves material means, can be used in the theatre to create a greater sense of terror than they do in nature. The true inner forces do not lose their strength and effect so easily. [Footnote: A comparison between the work of Poe and Maeterlinck shows the course of artistic transition from the material to the abstract.] An the word which has two meanings, the first direct, the second indirect, is the pure material of poetry and of literature, the material which these arts alone can manipulate and through which they speak to the spirit. Something similar may be noticed in the music of Wagner. His famous leitmotiv is an attempt to give personality to his characters by something beyond theatrical expedients and light effect. His method of using a definite motiv is a purely musical method. It creates a spiritual atmosphere by means of a musical phrase which precedes the hero, which he seems to radiate forth from any distance. [Footnote: Frequent attempts have shown that such a spiritual atmosphere can belong not only to heroes but to any human being. Sensitives cannot, for example, remain in a room in which a person has been who is spiritually antagonistic to them, even though they know nothing of his existence.] The most modern musicians like Debussy create a spiritual impression, often taken from nature, but embodied in purely musical form. For this reason Debussy is often classed with the Impressionist painters on the ground that he resembles these painters in using natural phenomena for the purposes