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Monday, July 29, 2013

Wassily Kandinsky

Portrait of Kandinsky
by Gabriela Munter (1906)
"Every work of art is the child of its time, often it is the mother of our emotions."

— Wassily Kandinsky
Russian Artist
1866 - 1944

Can a creative leader escape the prison of his times?  Is the content of the work produced locked into the world view of the time?  For example, did the artists and writers who lived when people thought the world was flat produce different work than artists today would? Does our world view frame the work we create?  

Concentric Circles
byWassily Kandinsky
If you believe that works of art are children of the time they were produced, then you must accept the fact that what you create will one day be perceived as old fashioned.  What you perceive as fresh and new today may one day be viewed with embarrassment.  We often think we are better than the people of the past, that we have risen above their prejudices, yet we are often trapped by our own prejudices and misconceptions.

The truly great artist transcends time and custom.  He is celebrated in every age for his creative genius and understanding of the world.  Other artists may be celebrated in some periods and forgotten in others.  Some artists are never discovered in their own time, but because their work is ahead of its time, they find their place in a future they will never see.  And many never survive beyond their own time.

Creative Practice
Spend time this week analyzing your creative work.  What makes your creative work a child of our times?  What in your creative work transcends our times?  How does it fit within the world view of our times?

Kandinsky was born in Moscow, the son of a tea merchant.  When he was five, the family moved to Odessa.  As a boy, he learned to play the piano and the cello as well as draw.  When he was 20, he moved to Moscow to study law.  He graduated six years later with honors and accepted a position teaching. When he was 30, he gave up a career teaching law and economics in order to study art in Munich.  

In 1892, Kandinsky married Anna Chimyakina, a cousin on his father's side. Ten years later he fell in love with Gabriela Munter, an art student, and traveled through Europe with her. He officially divorced Anna in 1911, but never married Gabriela. Instead, he married Nina Andreevsky in 1917.

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Here is Helen Mirren, the actress, discussing the work of Kandinsky.