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30194973 Concerning the Spiritual in Art

30194973 Concerning the Spiritual in Art

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Published by: andregroeneveld on Jul 26, 2010
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10/25/2012

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CONCERNING THE SPIRITUAL IN ART
The work 
Concerning the Spiritual in Art 
,
completed in
1910
, is Kandinsky’s most importanttheoretical writing. He had made notes for it already ten years before, it was published at theend of 1911, so it was ready for the opening of the exhibition of the editors of the “Blauer Reiter”. Up until 1912, three reprints were necessary.In the
 Introduction
,
“inner necessity,” 
the expression which was important to Kandinsky wasintroduced. In the first chapter,
 Bewegung (Movement),
Kandinsky draws a triangular pictureof spiritual life: a triangle with a single figure standing at its point moves ever forwards. In thefollowing chapter,
Geistige Wendung (Spiritual change)
Kandinsky specifies this idea andattempts to give it historical proof. Before he actually comes to speak of art itself, he mentionsthe Theosophical Society as a great spiritual movement. His appeal to literature leads him toMaurice Maeterlinck and Kubin as soothsayers of the decline; as far as music is concerned, hesees principally Claude Debussy and Arnold Schönberg, who renunciates the beautiful andleads into a new kingdom of spiritual experiences in music, as carrying the hopes of the
“spiritual change.”
In painting he specially emphasizes Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse as pathfinders. The chapter 
 Pyramide (Pyramid)
shows the relationship and the differences between the arts. Kandinsky strives towards a joining of the arts to form a
“monumental art”.
The main part, the chapter 
Malerei (Painting)
is, in contrast to the preceding chapters,reserved for systematic argument. Kandinsky investigates the effect of colors(as
“vibrationsof the soul”
) and develops a system for connecting form and color. In this, he places abstractelements in the foreground. According to Kandinsky colors are basically arranged warm-cold /light-dark. Each color is assigned a spiritual expressive quality, which he illustrates withmusical examples. From the preceding chapter he takes the idea of 
“monumental art”
anddesigns a new form, the
“stage composition,”
whereby dance joins color and music as a thirdelement. The closing words concern reproductions of Kandinsky’s own works, here he makessub-divisions into “Impression”, “Improvisation” and “Composition” and refers to motivesand aims of his own works.
 
CONCERNING THE SPIRITUAL IN ART 
BY WASSILY KANDINSKY[TRANSLATED BY MICHAEL T. H. SADLER]
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PART I. ABOUT GENERAL AESTHETIC
I. INTRODUCTIONII. THE MOVEMENT OF THE TRIANGLEIII. SPIRITUAL REVOLUTIONIV. THE PYRAMID
PART II. ABOUT PAINTING
V. THE PSYCHOLOGICAL WORKING OF COLOUR VI. THE LANGUAGE OF FORM AND COLOUR VII. THEORYVIII. ART AND ARTISTSIX. CONCLUSION
PART 1: ABOUT GENERAL AESTHETICI. INTRODUCTION
Every work of art is the child of its age and, in many cases, themother of our emotions. It follows that each period of culture produces an art of its own which can never be repeated. Effortsto revive the art-principles of the past will at best produce anart that is still-born. It is impossible for us to live and feel,as did the ancient Greeks. In the same way those who strive tofollow the Greek methods in sculpture achieve only a similarityof form, the work remaining soulless for all time. Such imitation
 
is mere aping. Externally the monkey completely resembles a human being; he will sit holding a book in front of his nose, and turnover the pages with a thoughtful aspect, but his actions have for him no real meaning.There is, however, in art another kind of external similaritywhich is founded on a fundamental truth. When there is asimilarity of inner tendency in the whole moral and spiritualatmosphere, a similarity of ideals, at first closely pursued butlater lost to sight, a similarity in the inner feeling of any one period to that of another, the logical result will be a revivalof the external forms which served to express those inner feelings in an earlier age. An example of this today is our sympathy, our spiritual relationship, with the Primitives. Likeourselves, these artists sought to express in their work onlyinternal truths, renouncing in consequence all consideration of external form.This all-important spark of inner life today is at present only aspark. Our minds, which are even now only just awakening after years of materialism, are infected with the despair of unbelief,of lack of purpose and ideal. The nightmare of materialism, whichhas turned the life of the universe into an evil, useless game,is not yet past; it holds the awakening soul still in its grip.Only a feeble light glimmers like a tiny star in a vast gulf odarkness. This feeble light is but a presentiment, and the soul,when it sees it, trembles in doubt whether the light is not adream, and the gulf of darkness reality. This doubt, and thestill harsh tyranny of the materialistic philosophy, divide our soul sharply from that of the Primitives. Our soul rings crackedwhen we seek to play upon it, as does a costly vase, long buriedin the earth, which is found to have a flaw when it is dug up

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