Kandinsky is considered the first painter to have created works of total abstraction. His commitment to expressing inner beauty, fervor of spirit, and spiritual desire came after a long journey of intense thought and self reflection.
During his early twenties, before he had ever created artwork on his own, Kandinsky likened painting to the process of composing music. He had always been fascinated by music, considering it the highest and purest form of art. He understood musical composition as a language of its own; abstract by nature and nonrepresentational of the exterior world, expressing the immediate feelings and reactions of the soul. Comparing art making to musical composition, he said that “color is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand which plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul”.
He developed a deep interest in synesthesia, and aimed to steep his work in the phenomenon of a simultaneous sensory experience (ex: hearing a note when seeing a color). Drawing from the abstract language of music, Kandinsky began using a rhythm and medley of shapes and colors to create a visual language.
Kandinsky went on to create bodies of work based on this idea of invoking a multi sensory experience with form, color, and their interaction.
Movement I, Composition IX
He also created bodies of work filled with biomorphic forms, for he was fascinated with the biological sciences. He created abstract representations of amoebas, embryos, cells and all types of microscopic forms. What’s interesting is his representation of some of these forms as circles, which he considered the shape most closely related to the cosmos and universal meaning.
In all of his abstract works, the most prominent colors and forms create an initial understanding for the viewer. But to truly understand, the viewer must spend time with the painting, noticing the interactions of shapes both small and large, and comprehending their harmony.