Kandinsky’s four-color lithograph,“Small worlds IV,” reminds me of an art project in a 2-Dimensional design course I took over 25 years ago. The instructor’s basic guideline was to create a geometrically-inspired design flow within a circle sitting on top of an isosceles trapezoid, the whole similar in shape to a skeleton keyhole, in black India ink on whiteboard. The predominant circle (as shown below), with same thickness of border, would be the focal point.

As it turned out, my design employed many of Kandinsky’s elements: open and filled circles; straight and squiggly lines; triangles and trapezoids; and most notably, a checkerboard motif.

Small worlds IV, Wassily Kandinsky 1922

Small worlds IV, Wassily Kandinsky 1922

Kandinsky taught at Bauhaus school of art and applied design for 11 years beginning in 1922. My 2-D design instructor was, most probably, influenced by Kandinsky’s design coursework for his form-theory class, ‘The Basics of Artistic Design’, in the Bauhaus style of craft functionality.

In his second theoretical book, Point and Line to Plane (1926), Kandinsky developed a theory of geometric figures and their relationships —  the circle, for example, is the most peaceful shape and represents the human soul.

The second book refined also his color theory (via Arnold Schoenberg Center) developed in his 1912 manifesto, Concerning the Spiritual in Art, where the color red was not only the sound of a trumpet confidently striving toward a goal, as noted on my Kandinsky: Red Rider post, it could be a tuba, the deep notes on a cello, or a high clear violin. A ‘darker blue’ could also be a cello, the notes of which presumably were not quite as deep as those of red. 

Green composition, Wassily Kandinsky 1923

Green composition, Wassily Kandinsky 1923

Green is like a fat, very healthy cow lying still and unmoving, only capable of chewing the cud, regarding the world with stupid dull eyes. — from Concerning the Spiritual in Art.

Green is passive but with hidden strength. Ever prone to verbosity, green does not have stupid dull eyes, but is the mixture of blue and yellow — yellow being “disturbing for people” in a middle C on a brassy trumpet. 

As in “Green Composition,” my 2-D art project had an element of black and white stripe on the diagonal.


NOTE: Kandinsky supposedly had synaesthesia. He claimed to hear color as sound, and see sound as color. The German expression artist Gabriele Münter once told him that he was trapped in his own intellect.  

Kandinsky's theory of color and music

Kandinsky’s theory of color and music