30/05/21

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Wassily Kandinsky | VIII - Art and Artists


Concerning the Spiritual in Art, 1910
Part II: About painting

In an obscure and puzzling way, the artist develops a work of art. As it gains a life of its own, it becomes an entity, an independent spiritual life, which as a being, leads the life of material realism.
It is, therefore, not simply a phenomenon created casually and Inconsequentially indifferent to spiritual life.
Instead as a living being, it possesses creative active forces. It lives, has power, and actively forms the above-mentioned spiritual atmosphere.
From an innermost point of view, the question finally should be answered as to whether creation is strong or weak. If too weak in its form, it is impotent to cause any kind of spiritual vibration.

Wassily Kandinsky | Succession, 1935

In reality, no picture can be considered "well painted" if it possesses only correct tone values (the unavoidable "valeurs" of the French). One should call a picture well painted if it possesses the fullness of life.
A "perfect drawing" is the one where nothing can be changed without destroying the essential inner life, quite irrespective of whether this drawing contradicts our conception of anatomy, botany, or other sciences.
The question is not whether the coincidental outer form is violated, but only, if its quality depends on the artist's need of certain forms irrespective of reality's pattern.

Likewise, colors should be used not because they are true to nature but only because the color harmony is required by the paintings individually. The artist is not only justified in using any form necessary for his purposes, but it is his very duty to do so. Neither anatomical correctness nor any basic overthrow of scientific statements are necessary, only the artist's unlimited freedom in the selection of his means.

His need provides the right to unlimited liberty, which at once would prove inorganic were it not based on freedom. Artistically, its rightful use is its aforementioned innermost moral evidence, which constitutes its pure aim not only of art but also of life.
A faint adherence to scientific precepts is never as damaging as their equally purposeless overthrow. In the former case, an imitation of nature's material objects is created, which may be used for various specific purposes.
The last instance produces an artistic betrayal, which can have grave consequences. The former leaves the moral atmosphere void and petrifies it, while the latter creates a poisonous infection.

Wassily Kandinsky | Schwabing Das weisse haus

Painting as an art Is not some vague projection into space but a power, so strong and full of purpose that it serves the refinement of the soul, (the movement of the triangle). It is its language which speaks to the soul.
If artists avert this task, a chasm remains unbridged, and there is no power entitled to take the place of art.
Inevitably, while the human soul will gain in strength, art too will increase its vitality since both are inextricably connected and complimentary to each other. Periodically, when the soul suffocates, downridden by the intrusion of materialistic disbelief and low ambitions, there promptly arises the fallacy that "pure" art is not bestowed upon man for special purposes but purposelessly exists only as "art for art's sake", ("L'art pour I'art").

Wassily Kandinsky | Murnau Street, 1908

The artist is not born to a life of pleasure. He must not live idle; he has a hard work to perform, and one which often proves a cross to be borne. He must realize that his every deed, feeling, and thought are raw but sure material from which his work is to arise, that he is free in art but not in life.

Thus, the bond between art and the soul is drugged into unconsciousness. In this case, retribution follows swiftly, as the artist and the spectator (whose bonds are purely spiritual) cease to comprehend each other and the spectator turns his back on the artist, who is admired merely for his skill and inventiveness.
In such an event, the artist should modify his position by recognizing his duty towards art and towards his spiritual self, In finding himself not only the master of a situation, but a servant of the highest whose duties are precise, great, and holy. He develops and searches his Innermost soul and molds it Into an entity.
The artist should have a message to convey; mere mastery of form should not be his goal, but rather the adaptation of form to inner contentment.

The artist is not born to a life of ease and pleasure, with the right to live idly avoiding all arduous duty. Seriously, he performs a task which can prove to be his cross.

Every deed, feeling, and thought form the untouchable, solid material from which his work emanates. For that reason, his freedom is not in living but in art.

The artist has a triple responsibility in comparison to the layman:
I. he must repay the talent given him;
2. his deeds, thoughts, and feelings, as concern all men, must create a spiritual atmosphere according to their nature;
3. these deeds, thoughts, and feelings are the artistic tools for his creations which, in turn, exercise influence on the spiritual atmosphere. In reality, the artist is a "king", as Sar Peladan called him, not because of equally heavy duties, but because of the power accorded him.

If the artist is the priest of "beauty", then this beauty is pursued according to the same principle of inner value that we have found elsewhere.

Wassily Kandinsky | Conclusion

This "beauty" is measured according to greatness and inner need, which, so far, have rendered us unerringly correct service.
That is to be considered beautiful which results from an inner spiritual need, as only that which is spiritual can be beautiful.

Maeterlinck, one of the first pioneers and truly modern composers, that artist of the soul, ever striving for the art of tomorrow, said: "There is nothing on earth that yearns more for beauty, or is so susceptible to it, than the soul.., and, it is for that reason, that few human souls withstand the leadership of another devoted to the service of beauty".

This quality of the soul is the oil which facilitates the slow, scarcely visible yet ceaseless, untiring motion of the spiritual triangle, ever forward and upward.


Concerning the Spiritual in Art, 1910

Wassily Kandinsky | VI - The language of Form and Color
Wassily Kandinsky | VII - Painting Theory