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Concerning the Spiritual in Art
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Concerning the Spiritual in Art

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  22,135 ratings  ·  126 reviews
A pioneering work in the movement to free art from its traditional bonds to material reality, this book is one of the most important documents in the history of modern art. Written by the famous nonobjective painter Wassily Kandinsky (1866–1944), it explains Kandinsky's own theory of painting and crystallizes the ideas that were influencing many other modern artists of the ...more
Paperback, 80 pages
Published June 1st 1977 by Dover Publications (first published 1912)
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Color by Victoria FinlayTheory of Colours by Johann Wolfgang von GoetheConcerning the Spiritual in Art by Wassily KandinskyInteraction of Color by Josef AlbersThe Elements of Color by Johannes Itten
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Tik-Tok of Oz by L. Frank BaumKokoro by Natsume SōsekiDubliners by James JoycePenrod by Booth TarkingtonDracula's Guest by Bram Stoker
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6th out of 15 books — 7 voters

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Community Reviews

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I hit my artistic peak with my rendering of my uncle’s Conan the Barbarian upper arm tattoo (complete with blood splatter) when I was eight. Truly appreciating art always seemed like the province of finer souls. A secret protected on par with gypsy divination and Shamrock shakes. I guess I always thought art was beyond words. Kandinsky, in his brief book, proves otherwise. Incredibly lucid and articulate, Kandinsky leads the reader to move past an intellectual appreciation of art:
The spectator i
What saves this book is superlative phrase-turning and humor, intended or otherwise. If you've ever been tempted to bronze your subjective aesthetic and mount it in the museum between philosophy and science, this will be there to remind you how nearly impossible it is to pull off. Kandinsky couldn't do it and neither can you. I mean he sets forth to launch a theory of color analogized to harmonics, but what really comes through is an abiding disdain for yellow, coupled with a love letter to blue ...more
Picked this short treatise up used for cheap. Kandinsky has a lot of very interesting ideas about the relation of art and music and poetry, with some discussion of social status/interpersonal relationships (just a dash). He is a modernist through and through. The introduction is enough to get you excited to read it and I just love his description about what art is and ought to be. Dense and could be a better translation, I think. Takes some concentration to understand it all and follow the metap ...more
Laura Cowan
Stunning in its foresight. This book soothed some of the frustration I have developed with people's inability to understand what I am trying to do with my writing, not necessarily due to its failure to convey its inner purpose (though of course there is some of that) but rather due to some people's inability to think for themselves and get past buzzwords to really explore the nature of things with me. Kandinsky really lays out the structure of spiritual development and the ways that artists stan ...more
I'm finally getting around to reading Wassily Kandinsky's Concerning the Spiritual in Art. In it, the artist explains his plans for the ascent of spiritually fulfilling and expressive art that surpasses mere replication of natural form. This is not to say that Kandinsky is in favor of pure abstraction. He faults cubism as too intellectual and spiritually lacking, as opposed to inspired abstractions.
I most enjoyed his breakdown of color theory, setting antitheses of white and black (obvi), yellow
A professional artist/teacher friend of mine gave me a copy of Kandinsky's book at a recent workshop she was leading. Consider the long period of the 20th Century during which Kandinsky practiced what he preached as a "Spiritual Revolution" in art. Spiritual Revolution was a popular theme throughout the century. A Baha'i pamphlet with that title was published in the 1970's. Being an activist artist in that revolution now is as important as ever.
Michael Franklin
kandinsky's respondeo ut the world of art, in his time, to the past, and for the future of art is widely considered one of the greatest documents on art by an artist. sure, i'll accept that. however, i believe this is more of an assault on the condition of the human spirit than a treatise on the state of art.

kandinsky reiterates, many times, his disgust for the broad acceptance of and reverence towards "stagnate art". as an artist himself, he is quite aware of the vast differences between what t
In some ways I enjoyed the two rather lengthy introductions to the book (not by Kandinsky himself) -- which put his career and ideas in a historical perspective -- more than the book itself. I read the following review from an Amazon reader. I agree with most of it, and he brings out some of the more important points Kandinsky offers in his book. I especially like this insight from the reviewer: "His spirituality is not an incarnational one, where the Spirit interpenetrates and quickens matter, ...more
M.P. Nicholaou
Kandinsky was a master of his Art, there is no doubt in my mind of that. He is also an accomplished writer, who expresses his theory of Art very well. However, he is trying to put into words a visual medium and I'm not sure that can work. It is very nearly impossible to express the visual language into the literary. Forgive me using an old cliché, "a picture paints a thousand words" that comes to mind and is very apt for this.

Just as it is virtually impossible to describe how art works in words
This is a fantastic book. Kandinsky's ideas on art and its ultimate goal are nothing short of inspirational.
No matter what area of art you enjoy, whether it be music, painting or even writing; this book is completely relevant. He is an artist who is completely "in tune" with all aspects of creativity. His way of explaining, though quite poetic and grandoise at times, is very clear to read and understand. He's not just a great painter, but a captivating writer who really has a way with words. Th
P. Timothy
I read this in anticipation of possibly leading a class on Spirituality and Art...and as a primer of sorts on the early thoughts about the connection between Spirituality and the Arts, especially connected with Modern art into abstraction. Some of his thoughts are brilliian and prescient; some really are parallel to Dewey, James and the like philosophers, along with Dr. Albert Barnes, and some of it comes off as purely bunkish guesses...but that is the issue with ground-breaking writing and thou ...more
I was not aware of the intrinsic relation between form and color. Plus, I found completely stimulating (just by reading) his description of contrasting colors, their antagonisms and synthesis. Apparently while yellow warmly moves, blue is coldly inert, the former expressing a bodily experience, the latter spiritual. An the "theory" goes on. I would never thought of green as stationary, yet he made me wonder...

I won't get into his argument about the artist as king. I will just retain the "languag
Beka Sukhitashvili
ძალიან საინტერესო ნაშრომია, შთაბეჭდილებებით სავსე ვარ.

"ღია ლურჯი ფლეიტას ჰგავს, მუქი ჩელოს, კიდევ უფრო მუქი კონტრაბასის არაჩვეულებრივ ჟღერას; უფრო ღრმა, საზეიმო ფორმაში ლურჯის ჟღერადობა ორღანისას შეიძლება შევადაროთ".

"ხელოვნებაში თეორია არასდროს უსწრებს პრაქტიკას, არამედ პირიქით".

"არანაირი "უნდა" არ არსებობს ხელოვნებაში, რომელიც მუდამ თავისუფალია. ხელოვნება გაურბის "უნდას"-ს, როგორც დღე გაურბის ღამეს".

მოკლედ, ესეც წიგნის ჩემი მიმოხილვა:

A powerful, lucid manifesto by Kandinsky, the famous Russian Expressionist, calling for the artist to proceed inward to cultivate the abstract expressions of the inner spirit and away from material representation. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that in addition to his obvious mastery as a painter, Kandinsky was also an accomplished and logical writer.

"The artist must have something to say, for mastery over form is not his goal but rather the adapting of form to its inner meaning"
Mar 28, 2012 Pam added it
Shelves: art
I absolutely LOVE art. I like it a bit challenging not just the normal wildly popular stuff, BUT I just can't read about it. I try, but most of the writing seems overly analytical, not visual or emotional like the subject. I have tried to read this book...I have actually read this book, but it doesn't seem to sink in... I guess I will just keep loving art and trying to read about it.
Fran Aguirre
Mi relación con este libro es de amor y odio. Es tedioso en un comienzo, las primeras 70 páginas se dan vuelta en lo mismo y siento que faltó poder de síntesis. Pero desde la página 71 la tesis del autor se aclara y empiezo a disfrutar el texto y a coincidir con él en varios aspectos.

¿De qué trata?

Postula la abstracción en el arte, dejar de lado el naturalismo tan propio del impresionismo.

Incentiva la espiritualidad y no la materialidad artística.

Llama al artista a buscar el significado de su
Apryl Anderson
Kandinsky's 'Movement of the Triangle' was precisely the visual I needed to understand this process of the collective conscience going forward, yet circling eternal revelations. Also, I agree with his discussion of the related arts, and I'm surprised that he didn't mention the 'Musica universalis'. As for the color theory, I need to spend some time with that...
C. Vau
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
No es un mal libro, tiene puntos de vista bastante interesantes y relevantes incluso en nuestros tiempos. Le pongo 3 estrellas porque la edición no me pareció la mejor. Aunque principalmente la utilicé con fines informativos y no creo que la vaya a referenciar.
Craaaaazy shit, but also totally brilliant.

Kandinsky had this condition called synesthesia where he could like, feel and hear colors and all his senses were mixed up. While it is a serious medical condition, it makes for some incredible writing.
I had high hopes but was disappointed in how boring and un-moving this book was. I have never been a huge Kandinsky fan, but as an art lover, appreciate his work. I keep moving from chapter to chapter, waiting to be inspired... but nothing. Boo!
This book has only 80 pages, so you wont get a headache about when you can finish it. The structure is also quite clear: the first part is about the triangle theory of human spirit development, which serves the purpose of the author in his argument about abstract art. The second part introduces the color and form theory, which is also my favorite part of the two. For him, the inner spirit of the art, or the spiritual atmosphere an artist creates is more important than the material he uses.

A rea
Apr 24, 2008 Roger added it
Recommends it for: artists
Kandinski's path from object-oriented art to the abstract is one which he begins to see an underlying spirituality to the shapes and color beneath the hills, buildings, and humanity he has captured on his canvas. In time the background is brought forward and fused into the foreground. He seeks a higher plain to effect the onlooker. His desire is to "send light into the darkness of men's hearts" quote by Schumann.

It is not "art for art's sake". What drives one to create great art should not merel
The first section is an inspiring interpretation of invention, experimentation and critical progress in aesthetics. Uses his contemporaries as examples on specific points, but does't limit the call to arms for spiritual revolution to his particular place in art history. Just as interesting a work of religious writing as it is an essay on abstraction in art. Criticized for throwing convention out the window without offering sufficient definition of the new direction he seems to be talking about, ...more
Ever enjoyed staring at an interesting pattern on the wall without thinking anything else? Unfortunately, such a moment lasts for a short time. In this book the author describes how such experiences may be created with non-objective art. Additionally, I understood that non-objective art is about respecting deep thoughts of a fellow human being, the artist. Although the author's description may seem synesthetic to many, it also hints about what happens in our own mind when we experience such wor ...more
As someone who has struggled to understand modern art at times, I was interested to see what Kandinsky, writing at a time when art was just freeing itself from the shackles of traditional representation, had to say on the subject. While some of his theories on the use of colours seemed without base(or falling into the trap of creating rules - something he warns artists against), he is superbly eloquent and brought up some interesting points I hadn’t considered about the dematerialization of obje ...more
Alex Kartelias
Wassily Kandinsky- the most influencial abstract painter of the early 20th century- is an artist to be thankful for. Most of the time, artist's leave their work unexplained and leave the viewer guessing the intentions of the artist. Kandinsky goes beyond articulating what his art is about: with rich description and poetical genius, he explains the musical qualities and the spiritual dimensions of art. Only an artist which as much insight and experience as Kandinsky can invision such innovative a ...more
Janek Z
Kantian libertarianism? Essentially a string of question begging sentences insisting on the importance of something called "inner life". Associative rant about what colors mean was rather enjoyable.
I did enjoy this book a lot. It is quite dense with a lot packed into a very small space, but I thought it was very interesting.
Heba TariQ
ان يفيض النور فى الظلام الذى يغرق قلوب البشر , هذه هى مسئولية الفنان و واجبه
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Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky was a Russian painter, and Art theorist. He is credited with painting the first modern abstract works.
Born in Moscow, Kandinsky spent his childhood in Odessa. He enrolled at the University of Moscow and chose to study law and economics. Quite successful in his profession—he was offered a professorship (chair of Roman Law) at the University of Dorpat—he started painti
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“Colour is a power which directly influences the soul.” 78 likes
“That is beautiful which is produced by the inner need, which springs from the soul.” 13 likes
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