The great Russian abstract artist Wassily Kandinsky once said that “art causes vibrations in the soul”. What a beautiful description of an expressive form universally acknowledged around the world. Indeed, art does cause vibrations – global vibrations in an instant in today’s highly digitised and connected world – and this will continue to progress as long as man and technology develop together. But just a mere 80 or so years ago, art was harmonising and influencing people and regions far beyond where it was produced as well. Kandinsky paintings, for example, were a central figure and influence in two of America’s greatest art museums.
Kandinsky is cited by Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum officials as central to the museum’s creation – both spiritually and aesthetically (some may argue this is one of the same – just cut us some slack!). According to Guggenheim curator Tracey Bashkoff, his works are a core and the essence of the collection, while also helping to inspire the actual physical creation of the building. As the story goes, Solomon R. Guggenheim began collecting Kandinsky oil paintings in 1929, on the advice of friend and artist Hilla Rebay, who was a big fan of the Russian abstractionist. Just 10 years later the pair opened the first abstraction gallery / art space in the world for such canvas artwork, dubbed the Museum of Non-Objective Painting in New York (where else?).
Four years after the gallery opened, artist Frank Lloyd Wright was commissioned in 1943 to design a new building for all the abstract artwork Solomon Guggenheim had collected: now it is known as one of Wright’s greatest museums and creations, in the form of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum that opened in 1959. As Bashkoff noted: “Though Kandinsky is known for an abstraction that expressed his inner nature and Wright for his advancement of an organic architecture connected to the natural world, both advocated a spiritual, aesthetic experience of life.”
For those interested in a few quirky Kandinsky facts, here are some to whet your appetite. The three largest public holdings of the artist’s canvas artwork are found in the Guggenheim Museum; the Centre Pompidou, Paris; and the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich. Another fascinating fact is that Kandinsky’s artwork spanned some of the most tumultuous moments in human history: he developed as a painter over two world wars and the 1917 Russian Revolution; to know Kandinsky paintings, one has to appreciate the full scale of his personal background. Be sure to explore his background work through the internet’s best reproduction Kandinsky paintings website, well, this side of the Russian revolution that is.