Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Wassily Kandinsky papers
Date (inclusive): 1911-1940
Date (bulk): 1921-1937
Collection number: 850910
ca. 2 linear ft.
(3 boxes, 1 flat file folder)
Getty Research Institute
Special Collections and Visual Resources
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles, CA 90049-1688
Abstract: Russian-born artist considered to be one of
the creators of abstract painting. Papers document Kandinsky's teachings at the
Bauhaus, his writings, his involvement with the Russian Academy of Artistic
Sciences (RAKhN) in Moscow, and his professional contacts with art dealers,
artists, collectors, and publishers.
Language: Collection material in
Russian, with some English and
Open for use by qualified researchers.
Wassily Kandinsky papers, 1921-1937, Getty Research Institute,
Research Library, Accession no. 850910 .
Acquired by the repository in 1985.
The collection was first processed and described in 1986, when an
inventory was prepared. In 2001, Isabella Zuralski re-processed the collection
and wrote a new finding aid.
Alternate Form Available
Microfiche available for Series I.A and parts of Series I.B. (All
items in Box 1), and for Series II.
Wasily Kandinsky [Vasilii Vasil'evich Kandinskii] was born in 1866 in
Moscow, Russia and died in 1944 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France. He is considered
one of the first creators of purely abstract painting.
In 1896, after academic studies and initial career in law and social
sciences, Kandinsky turned down an offer of professorship in jurisprudence, and
together with his first wife Anja Shemiakina, left Russia for Munich with the
intention of becoming a painter.
In Munich, he enrolled at the Academie der Bildenden Künste where he
studied with Anton Azbé and Franz von Stuck. After achieving a diploma in 1900,
Kandinsky participated in several nonacademic shows, including the Phalanx
group in Munich, of which he became president in 1902, with the Berlin
Sezession group, in the Paris Salon' d'Automne and the Salon des Indépendants,
and with the group Die Brücke in Dresden.
In 1909 Kandinsky met the German painter Gabriele Münter. They
established a close relationship and lived and worked together in Munich as
well as in Murnau, in southern Bavaria. At this time Kandinsky began the
process that led to the emergence of his personal style and to the historic
breakthrough into abstract painting. The marriage to Anja Shemiakina was
dissolved in 1911.
Kandinsky was actively involved in avant-garde movements in Munich.
Among his friends were Alexej von Jawlensky, Marianne von Werefkin, Franz Marc,
Paul Klee, Hans Arp, August Macke, and the composer Arnold Schoenberg. In
opposition to officially approved art, Kandinsky helped to found the group Neue
Künstlervereinigung, and participated in the group's first exhibition in 1909
and in the second exhibition in 1910 at the Moderne Galerie Tannhäuser. While
preparing for the third exhibition in December 1911, the group split due to
aesthetic differences. Favouring freedom of expression, Kandinsky, Franz Marc,
Gabriele Münter, and Alfred Kubin, left the group Neue Künstlervereinigung and
exhibited their art work that same month at the Moderne Galerie Tannhäuser
[Galerien Thannhauser] under the name Der Blaue Reiter.
Der Blaue Reiter was also the title of a volume on
aesthetics edited by Kandinsky together with Franz Marc, and published by Piper
Verlag in Munich in 1912. Also in 1912, the Piper Verlag published Kandinsky's
main theoretical treatise
Über das Geistige in der Kunst.
In 1914, with the outbreak of World War I, Kandinsky left Munich and
returned to Russia by way of Switzerland, Italy, and the Balkans. Gabriele
Münter initially accompagnied Kandinsky; however, their relationship ended in
Odessa in 1916. In Moscow Kandinsky settled down with the intention of
reintegrating himself into Russian life. In 1917 he married a Russian woman,
Nina von Andreevskaia. In 1918 he became professor at the Moscow Academy of
Fine Arts and a member of the arts section of the People's Commissariat for
Public Instruction. In 1919 he created the Institute of Artistic Culture, and
helped to organize numerous museums across the Soviet Union. In 1920 he was
made professor at the University of Moscow and was honored with a
state-arranged one-man show. In 1921 he founded the Russian Academy of Artistic
Sciences. Because of the change in the Soviet government's policy towards
avant-garde art, Kandinsky and his wife Nina, left Russia for Berlin at the end
Early in 1922 Kandinsky was offered a teaching position at the Bauhaus
school of architecture and applied art in Weimar, where he began lecturing on
the elements of form, gave a course in color, and directed the mural workshop.
In 1923 Kandinsky became vice-president of the Sociéte Anonyme in New York and
co-editor of the series
Bauhausbücher. In 1924 he founded the group Die Blaue
Vier, together with Klee, Feininger and Jawlensky. In 1925, after the school's
relocation to Dessau, Kandinsky added a class on painting not intended as
applied art. In 1926, his second important treatise
Punkt und Linie zu Fläche, in which he emphasized in
particular the expressiveness of colors, was published by Albert Langen in
Munich. In 1927 several exhibitions of his art took place in Germany and
abroad. His essay "Réflexions sur l'art abstrait" appeared in 1931 in
Cahiers d'art in Paris.
In 1933 the Nazis forced the Bauhaus to close. After living several
months in Berlin, Kandinsky emigrated to France. For the remaining 11 years of
his life, he lived with his wife in an apartment in Neuilly-sur-Seine near
Paris. During this time, he continued to paint and to write, mainly for the
Cahiers d'art. Numerous exhibitions of his art took place
between 1934 and 1936, including the exhibition in 1935 in Paris at the gallery
Cahiers d'art, in 1936 in the United States at J. B. Neumann's New Art Circle
in New York and at the Stendahl Gallery in Los Angeles, and in San Francisco.
In 1937 a retrospective show opened at the Kunsthalle in Bern. Also in 1937,
Kandinsky's art work was included in the propagandistically designed Nazi
exhibition of modern art called Entartete Kunst [Degenerate art], shown at the
Hofgarten in Munich.
Scope and Content of Collection
The archive consists of ca. 280 items (on ca. 470 leaves) documenting
various aspects of Kandinsky's professional life from 1911 to 1940. It is
organized into four distinct groups. The most extensive part constitutes a
large body of teaching materials from the time Kandinsky taught at the Bauhaus
in Dessau, from 1925 until 1933, the year of the dissolution of theschool under
the pressure from the National Socialist regime. Included are detailed teaching
notes and graphic teaching aids, reading lists and class rosters.
Another group consists of undated manuscript writings by Kandinsky,
mainly an unpublished Russian translation of
Über das Geistige in der Kunst; also outlines for essays,
and miscellaneous notes.
The third group relates to Kandinsky's professional life after his
return to Russia at the outbreak of World War I, where he was actively involved
as co-founder and vice president of the Russian Academy of Artistic Sciences in
Moscow. Included are institutional records of the Academy, as well as outlines
and transcripts of lectures and discussions by Kandinsky and several other
Academy members. Most of the papers are dated 1921, the year in which Kandinsky
and his wife left Moscow for Berlin.
The fourth group consists of professional correspondence. A
significant portion comprise 19 letters by Kandinsky to the New York art dealer
and collector, Israel Ber Neumann, written between 1934 and 1940, after
Kandinsky's relocation from Germany to Neuilly-sur-Seine near Paris. Also
present are ca. 50 letters received by Kandinsky from artists, art dealers,
private collectors, art critics, editors and publishers, dating from 1911 to
1933. The letters are rich in detail related to Kandinsky's exhibition
activities and the reception of his artistic ideas, as well as provide
information about the activities of other significant persons, including
Alexander von Jawlenski, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Franz Marc, and Arnold
Schoenberg, and the American art collector Arthur Jerome Eddy.
Subjects: personal names
Arp, Jean, 1887-1966
Barr, Alfred Hamilton,
Bechtejeff, Wladimir von,
Beese, Lotte; see:
Stam-Beese, Lotte, 1903-1988
Chagall, Marc, 1887-
Drewes, Werner, 1899-
Eddy, Arthur Jerome,
Gabo, Naum, 1890-
Genin, Robert, 1884-1943
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang
Guggenheim, Solomon R.
(Solomon Robert), 1861-1949
Helmholtz, Hermann von,
Jawlensky, Alexej von,
Kirschmann, A. (August),
Kirchner, Ernst Ludwig,
Laban, Rudolf von,
Leonidov, Ivan I., 1902-
Luckiesh, Matthew, b.
Marées, Hans von,
Neumann, J. B. (Jsrael
Pashkov, V. A.
Rebay, Hilla, 1890-1967
Ridder, André de, 1888-
Rubin, Reuven, 1893-
Sisley, Alfred, 1839-1899
Sweeney, James Johnson,
Wittwer, Hans, 1894-1952
Blaue Reiter (Group of
Neue Sachlichkeit (Art)
Contributors: personal names
Bogdanov, A. (Aleksandr),
Burberg, K. A.
Deri, Max, b.
Eddy, Arthur Jerome,
Frank, S. L. (Semen
IAzvitskii, Valerii, b.
Kames, Alfred W.
Kirchner, Ernst Ludwig,
Kogan, P. S. (Petr
Lazarev, P. P. (Petr
Mashkov, Ilia Ivanovich,
Mashkovtsev, N. G.
(Nikolai Georgievich), 1887-1962
Petrov, N. V. (Nikolai
Petrovskii, A. M.
Platov, Fedor Fedorovich,
Sérouya, Henri, 1895-
Shor, Evsei D.
Contributors: corporate bodies
Kreis für Kunst
Kunstfreunde und Künstler