The invention of abstraction, Vasily Kandisky

Another manuscript from the same year (1904) already bears the decisivee, programmatic title The Language of Colour. There Kandinsky proclaims of the very first page: “We painters of our time cannot suddently abstract from the shapes that nature offers us.”

And he therefore proposes: “We should not think of nature, we need to forget it when we have to make a colour composition.”

In all these deliberations, which would later inform his important and (for abstract art) highly influential essay ‘On the Spiritual in Art’, there is often concern about the meaning of pure ‘colour thinking’: “Combining beautiful colours that have no further meaning, is nothing but ornamentation. This would be the result of emancipation if we entirely disregarded the inner value of colour. But as soon as putting together colours awakens psychic echoes, that is composition.” “Where the object or the usual physical form intensifies or even causes the psychic effect of colour, this form has also to be clearly rendered. But where colour alone… has sufficient effect without the physical shape, this shape is not required at all… The ideal form is the absence of physical shape, as this limits the effect and as it were makes it too specialized and much too definite. But the indefinite has a greater wealth result.”

 

From these short extracts, but particularly in the revised texts of the Language of Colour of 1908-9, which largely formulates the contexts of On the Spiritual in Art, it is evident that Kandinsky at this stage had made greater and more radical progress with his theorical deliberations that in his art Statements such as “In order for colour to have an effect, it needs as such to be freed from real form” shows which way his thinking was heading. 

Abstraction was thus seen by Kandisnky more as an essential revival of art than something actually thanslated to paintings. It was there as a discovery and postulate before it could be incorporated into pictures. 

(…)

page 23 of Vasily Kandisky book. 

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