Where Music Meets Art- Wassily Kandinsky

Wasilly Kandinsky was a Russian-born artist who lead the Avante-Garde art movement. His practice and study of nontraditional art or pure abstractionism took off at the age of 30 when he moved to Munich to study great painters like Claude Monet. As a young child he was taught the piano and cello and took a musicians approach to drawing and painting. What does that mean? Well let me continue with his biography and I'll explain how he saw music and heard color.

He earned a degree in law with honors at the University of Moscow, which was his family's desire for him. A scholorship sent him to the Vologda Province to study criminal law and religion. It was here that he was inspired by local folk art which sparked his artistic ability. Still he took a position on the Moscow Faculty of Law. Four years later, while visiting an exhibit of French impressionist painters, he saw the works of Claude Monet and was intrigued by the nontraditional art works of Haystacks at Giverny. He also attended the Bolshoi Theater and listened to Wagner's Lohengrin, which helped him make the decision to abandon his law career and devote all his time learning the arts. It was at this time that he moved to Germany.

So what does it mean to approach art in a muscial connotation? He heard sounds and converted it into lines, shapes, colors or expressions of emotions. If you look at Compostion 8 above you may be able to recognize how certain lines can represent a sound. For example the long wavy line may sound like a high pitched woman's voice or violin. The cirles may represent the beat of a drum, The half circles may represent a tambourine or flute. Squares may represent the sound of a man's voice.

Our 4th-8th grade students played around with geometric abstract art. They tried to make compositions based on a few starting lines that ran off several sides of the page. Then they built off of those lines by composing a piece of art using the five elements of shape. They thought about their compositions the way Kandinsky did making their shapes relate to sound.

Kandinsky's famous or most recognizable work is a Color Study, of a Square with Concentric Circles. I did this project with the two younger classes because it teaches several lessons.

It teaches the kids about primary, secondary,tertiary, complimentary colors, contrast and emphasis. This is a great lesson also because it teaches students to look at subject matter and decide how well colors go together. I showed them what cool colors and warm colors were and for some students we learn what analogous colors were. This was a great lesson and the results were amazing.

“Wassily Kandinsky.”, A&E Networks Television,

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