If colour is the keyboard – Kandinsky can-do

KandinskyWassily Kandinsky was born in Moscow, the son of a tea merchant, on 16th December, in 1866 and died 69 years ago, on the 13th of December in 1944.  He became an influential Russian artist after spending his childhood in Odessa.  According to Wikipedia,  “Later in life, he would recall being fascinated and stimulated by colour as a child”. He described his experiences on entering iconic buildings and seeing immense shimmering colour and light which appeared to him like entering a vividly coloured piece of artwork. Initially, he was a fond follower of folk art, especially with his use of bright colours on a dark background. Later on, he began to liken painting to composing music in the manner for which he would become noted, stating:

Colour 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.

The picture featured above is entitled: “Painting with Three Splashes” (1914)  from the Guggenheim Museum, in New York. The range of colours used by Kandinsky becomes its pivotal feature. The seemingly endless tones of red, orange, green and purplish-blue can be seen all over the canvas and alternate to form a concentric ribbon of colour. Ultimately interpretation is in the eye of the beholder, and to me, it looks like an astonishing palette with the three main patches of colour standing out. If you are a visual receptor like myself, you might see, the shape of a face in the main part of the work; and separately up towards the top right quadrant, something that looks  a little bit like a set of teeth inside an open mouth – a bit reminiscent of an early Rolling Stones lubra-lips and mouth design. For more information on that, see my earlier post on the legacy of John Pasche.

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