The always illuminating Maria Popova wrote a lengthy review of Wassily Kandinsky’s Concerning the Spiritual in Art that included a public domain link to his manifesto which I dutifully downloaded to my cloud reader. She said it was a spectacular read in its entirety.

The book was translated by Michael T.H. Sadler: Kandinsky believed modern artists should realize their social duty to be spiritual teachers to the world. Sadler’s “task” was to further this school of thought. “… he (Kandinsky) is no adventurer striving for a momentary notoriety by the strangeness of his beliefs, then there is a chance that some people at least give his art fair consideration, and that, of these people, a few will come to love it as, in my opinion, it deserves.” 

But, he admitted, a fault in Kandisky’s manifesto was his tendency to verbosity. Hence Popova’s lengthy review … and I’m expanding my “there is no must in art, because art is free” theme from the previous post.

“To harmonize the whole is the task of art” — Wassily Kandinsky

Circles in a Circle, Wassily Kandinsky 1923

Circles in a Circle, Wassily Kandinsky 1923

Popova writes: Bemoaning the tendency of the general public to reduce art to technique and skill, Kandinsky argues that its true purpose is entirely different and adds to history’s most beautiful definitions of art:

In each picture is a whole lifetime imprisoned, a whole lifetime of fears, doubts, hopes, and joys. Whither is this lifetime tending? What is the message of the competent artist? … To harmonize the whole is the task of art.


 I find some of Kandinsky’s verbosity to be angst-ridden but as Sadler implores, I’m giving his art fair consideration. Popova’s review of the Considering the Spiritual in Art is probably all I’ll consider of the book, but I like his art. Kandinsky painted Circles in a Circle while he taught at the Bauhaus School of Art.