Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2012

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Art History

First Advisor

Kira van Lil

Abstract

Kandinsky is known for his colorful but complex abstract works. I am interested in the development of his abstraction up until World War One and how his experiences in Russia and Munich influenced his first abstract paintings. Specifically, I want to explore how the tensions in Europe preceding the war manifested in three works: Angel of the Last Judgment (1911), Black Spot (1912), and Improvisation (Deluge) (1913). Through research of Kandinsky’s life in Russia before becoming an artist, Theosophical thought in Russia’s Silver Age, the relationship between Russia and Germany at the beginning of the twentieth century, and a close analysis of his philosophy of colors and forms (by looking at his books, On the Spiritual in Art and Point and Line to Plane), I developed an argument for the three paintings. I will argue how key experiences and influences in his life led him to develop a specific abstract oeuvre in which he depicts his emotions and thoughts through color and form that is most apparent in the years before World War One. Kandinsky used Russian folk imagery in combination with Theosophical themes to abstractly express the heightened anxiety in Germany before the war.

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