Van Gogh •
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Wassily Kandinsky, the first artist to abandon the representation of objects in painting and thus the first abstract
painter, was born in Moscow.
A lawyer and political economist, he became interested in art during an ethnographical trip to northern Russia and gave
up his law career to study in Munich in 1896. By 1904, he was a contributor to the Paris Autumn Salon and had opened his
own art school. With Jawlensky, he founded the New Artists' Federation in 1909, and in 1910 he painted his first abstract
work and wrote "Concerning the Spiritual in Art", one of the most important and influential works on art of this century.
With Klee, Macke,
and Marc, he helped found the Blaue Reiter, where he exhibited and
collaborated with his friends on the: publication of their almanac.
During this period, Kandinsky's abstracts were characterized by brilliant color, swirling movement, and the forcefulness
of the Expressionism from
which they sprang. Following a stay in Switzerland and Sweden during World War I, Kandinsky returned to Russia after the
1917 Revolution, held several posts under the People's Commissariat for Popular Culture, and reorganized or set up 227
museums. Influenced by the Russian Constructivists Lissitsky and Malewitsch, his style became more precise and more
geometric using quieter color. Kandinsky returned to Germany in 1921 and became a professor at the Bauhaus in Weimar,
joining Klee, Feininger
and Schlemmer. He followed the bauhaus to Dessau and finally to Berlin.
When the Nazis closed the school, Kandinsky's paintings were considered so "degenerate" that they were confiscated. The
artist fled to Paris, where he remained until his death in 1944.