Concerning the Spiritual-and the Concrete-in Kandinsky's Art

Concerning the Spiritual-and the Concrete-in Kandinsky's Art

Language: English

Pages: 280


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

This book examines the art and writings of Wassily Kandinsky, who is widely regarded as one of the first artists to produce non-representational paintings. Crucial to an understanding of Kandinsky's intentions is On the Spiritual in Art, the celebrated essay he published in 1911. Where most scholars have taken its repeated references to "spirit" as signaling quasi-religious or mystical concerns, Florman argues instead that Kandinsky's primary frame of reference was G.W.F. Hegel's Aesthetics, in which art had similarly been presented as a vehicle for the developing self-consciousness of spirit (or Geist, in German). In addition to close readings of Kandinsky's writings, the book also includes a discussion of a 1936 essay on the artist's paintings written by his own nephew, philosopher Alexandre Kojève, the foremost Hegel scholar in France at that time. It also provides detailed analyses of individual paintings by Kandinsky, demonstrating how the development of his oeuvre challenges Hegel's views on modern art, yet operates in much the same manner as does Hegel's philosophical system. Through the work of a single, crucial artist, Florman presents a radical new account of why painting turned to abstraction in the early years of the twentieth century.

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above and below the large, rounded blue form somewhat to the left of center; and pretty much any of the drawn lines in the upper left-hand corner. Our occasional uncertainty concerning the status of all of these contours is, as we will see momentarily, crucial to the overall effect of the phenomenon. 81. For the most interesting of these accounts, see Matthias Haldemann, Kandinskys Abstraktion: Die Entstehung und Transformation seines Bildkonzepts (Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2002), 206–217.

classical and romantic art and Hegelian system. —Works: Aesthetics: 1, 7–13, 17–18, 20–22, 39, 42–45, 48–50, 58, 65–66, 147–48, 178n6, 179–80n1, 193n21, 228n14; Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences, 36; Phenomenology of Spirit, 6, 16, 56, 145–46, 181n4, 197n9, 204n65, 225n11, 226n22; Philosophy of Nature, 36–39, 63, 191–92n20, 223n137; Philosophy of Right, 64; Philosophy of Spirit, 36; Science of Logic, 11, 23, 191n20, 220n117 Hegelian system, 11, 43, 52, 61–63, 65, 124, 146–48, 192n20,

another; they generate “disharmonious contrasts” that still manage, in the context of the work, to reach a kind of harmonic reconciliation. Finally, even the fundamental opposition between materiality and immateriality is at least provisionally overcome—principally via that “point” which, in adhering so firmly to the lower edge of the picture plane, produces the illusion of the plane’s de-realization above. “The practiced eye,” Kandinsky wrote near the end of Punkt und Linie, “must possess the

Quetschtechnik in certain areas but also an array of other textures throughout: short parallel hatchings appear alongside dry, matte areas that are in turn interrupted by looping, fluid strokes laid down with heavily loaded brushes. Kandinsky simultaneously pursued a strategy of overt spatial disjunction. In a few of the preparatory drawings, which are unfortunately undated but which were presumably made just before (or conceivably just after) work on the canvas had begun, the artist divided the

Beautiful-of-the-“representational”-painting necessarily implies, therefore, a subjective constituent: it is subjective or subjectivist, and it is so because it is abstract. Let’s clarify, in order to avoid possible misunderstanding. In what was just said, we had in mind a subjective contribution that was purely pictorial. In fact, the contribution provided to the “representational” painting by the “subject” of the spectator is much richer than that. In the first place, while contemplating the

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