Wassily Kandinsky (Dictionary of World Biography: Twentieth Century)
Article abstract: Both for the quality and influence of his works and for the influence of his theoretical and pedagogical writings, Kandinsky was the most significant figure in the development of nonrepresentational abstract art in the first half of the twentieth century. He was the pioneer among those artists whose aim was not to reproduce the expressive qualities of objects and events in nature but to exploit the intrinsic expressive attributes of artistic materials, particularly pigments, without reference to natural appearances.
In 1871, Wassily Kandinsky’s family moved from Moscow to Odessa in the Crimea for the sake of the father’s health; Kandinsky spent his childhood there. His father, born in eastern Siberia, was a successful tea merchant and always encouraged his son’s artistic gifts, sending him, at age seven, to a special drawing teacher. His father generously supported him for many years. Kandinsky’s mother, Lydia Tikheeva, came from Moscow but was half Baltic. One of his great-grandmothers is said to have been a Mongolian princess, and people who knew Kandinsky noticed a certain Asiatic cast to his features.
The young Kandinsky drew, wrote poems, and played the piano and cello. In 1886, he went to the University of Moscow, where he studied law and political economy, and in 1893 he was appointed as a lecturer there in the faculty of law. Yet it was not until 1895, when he...
(The entire section is 1871 words.)
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