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Kandinsky's Untitled Improvisation III

Wassily Kandinsky's Untitled Improvisation III (1914), a work owned by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, was done in oil paint on cardboard. The painting measures approximately 25 by 20 inches. This work is one of a series Kandinsky painted in the first years of his experiments with purely non-objective art. Kandinsky theorized about abstract painting and Untitled Improvisation III can be studied with reference to his theories about color and spirituality in art.

Kandinsky was born in Russia in 1866. He became a lawyer and it was not until he was thirty years old that he gave up a career as a legal scholar to become a painter. In 1896 he moved to Munich to take up his new career and, with trips to Paris, became familiar with the current trends in painting. In 1907 he exhibited with the early German expressionist group Die Brucke (The Bridge). Sometime between 1910 and 1912 he painted his first non-objective work--a watercolor. This work was long considered to be the first non-objective painting, but scholars have found other examples by other artists. But whether or not he was the inventor of totally abstract art, "he was certainly its outstanding pioneer" (Hughes 299).

In 1911 Kandinsky, with the German painters August Macke and Franz Marc, formed the Blaue Reiter (Blue Rider) group. They were later joined by Paul Klee. These expressionist artists painted, promoted, and theorized about abstract art. In 1912, Kandinsky published his book, Concerning the Spiritual in Art. This very influential book and other essays "constituted almost a programmatic manifesto for the expressionist generation" (Selz 309). The book has been described as "a treatise on the mystique of artistic creativity, a messianic creed, which is complemented with an essay on colour harmonies" (Volboudt 39). Kandinsky's ideas about art were tied to his ideas about spirituality and the future of the human race. As Kramer notes, "however odd ...

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Kandinsky's Untitled Improvisation III. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 20:42, February 23, 2017, from