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Site last updated
26 June, 2013

Wassily Kandinsky
Quotations



"The basic principle of pictorial activity is the purposeful stirring of the human soul."

"There is no must in art because art is free."
 
"Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the harmonies, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul."
 
"Black is like the silence of the body after death, the close of life."
 
"The basic principle of pictorial activity is the purposeful stirring of the human soul."
 
"A perfect drawing is 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."
 
"But I soon discovered about that time [1901] that every head is a thing of perfect beauty, even if it first appears to be extremely ugly. It was, as a matter of fact, the natural law of construction, so completely and faultlessly apparent to me in every head, that gave it this touch of perfection."
 
"[Drawing]...allowed me to live outside time and space so that I was also no longer aware of myself."
 
"For many years I have searched for a way of letting the viewer 'go for a walk' in a painting and of making him lose himself in it. Sometimes I succeeded, too: I could tell from watching him."
 
"The horse carries the rider with strength and swiftness. But it is the rider who guides the horse. A talent will bring an artist with strength and swiftness to great heights. but it is the artist that directs his own talent. I am here referring to the element of 'consciousness' or 'calculation' in his work, or whatever else you like to call it."
 
"Now I knew for certain that the subject matter was detrimental to my paintings."
 
"Material is here a kind of stockpile from which the spirit draws what it needs at any given time, just as the cook does from the larder."
 
"Form, then, reflects the spirit of the individual artist. Form bears the stamp of his personality."
 
"Technically every work of art comes into being in the same way as the universe-through catastrophes, which out of the cacophony of all the instruments finally become that symphony we call the music of the spheres. The creation of a work of art is like the creation of a world."
 
"In may ways art resembles religion. The development of the arts does not consist of new discoveries which supersede old truths and dismiss them as aberrations (as is apparently the case with science). Its development lies in sudden illuminations resembling flashes of lightning, in explosions bursting in the sky like fireworks that scatter whole 'bouquets' of variously twinkling stars around them."
 
"Persistence in expressing the same spiritual values throughout his works is the true and unmistakable proof of the genuine artist..."
 
"Kandinsky believed that human emotion consists of vibrations of the soul, and the soul is set into vibration by nature: "Words, musical tones, and colors possess the psychial power of calling forth soul vibrations.[My purpose is] to produce vibrations in the beholder, and the work of art is the vehicle through which this purpose is served... The formative factor in the creation of a work of art is the artist's same vibration."
 
"The artist must have something to say, for his task is not the mastery of form, but the suitability of that form to its content..."
 
"The mood of nature can be imparted...only by the artistic rendering of its inner spirit."
 
"Abstract painting leaves behind the 'skin' of nature, but not its laws. Let me use the 'big words' cosmic laws. Art can only be great if it relates directly to cosmic laws and is subordinated to them."
 
"Color, form and objects become the artist's hands striking the keys of a piano and setting the strings into vibration."
 
"The artist must rain not only his eye but also his soul."
 
"The splendor of color in a painting must powerfully attract the viewer, and, at the same time, it must hide the underlying content."
 
"Talent carries the artist to great heights with strength and speed. But the artist guides his talent."
 
"The artist must know his talent through and through and, like a smart businessman, leave not the least bit unused and forgotten; instead he must exhaust, develop every particle to the maximum possible for him."
 
"Painting is a thundering collision of different worlds, intended to create a new world in, and from, the struggle with one another, a new world which is the work of art. Each work originates just as does the cosmos-through catastrophes which out of the chaotic din of instruments ultimately create a symphony, the music of the spheres. The creation of works of art is the creation of the world."
 
"I love every form which necessarily derives from the spirit, which is created from the spirit. Just as I hate every form which is not."
 
"In many things I must condemn myself, but I have always remained true to one thing-the inner voice, which set my goal in art and which I hope to follow to the last hour."
 
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