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Concerning the Spiritual in Art

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  18,896 ratings  ·  121 reviews
Pioneering work by the great modernist painter, considered by many to be the father of abstract art and a leader in the movement to free art from traditional bonds. Kandinsky's provocative thoughts on color theory and the nature of art. Analysis of Picasso, Matisse, and earlier masters. 12 illustrations.
Paperback, 80 pages
Published June 1st 1977 by Dover Publications (first published 1912)
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Color by Victoria FinlayConcerning the Spiritual in Art by Wassily KandinskyInteraction of Color by Josef AlbersTheory of Colours by Johann Wolfgang von GoetheThe Elements of Color by Johannes Itten
Best Books About Colors
2nd out of 21 books — 36 voters
Tik-Tok of Oz by L. Frank BaumKokoro by Sōseki NatsumeDubliners by James JoycePenrod by Booth TarkingtonDracula's Guest by Bram Stoker
Best Books of 1914
6th out of 15 books — 7 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Matt
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
...more
Ridgely
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
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
Ellis
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
Michelle
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
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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
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Bill
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
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Ben
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
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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
Ana
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
...more
Hareton Linton
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:
http://popularpopcorn.blogspot.com/20...

Cameron
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"
David
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.
Pam
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.
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.
Ricardo
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.
Sian
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.
Christina
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!
Roger
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
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Brandon
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
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.
Dillon
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
#شومان
Francisco Torres
Very interesting and insightful.
Mii
This book was a great read!
Tom Uytterhoeven
This book is interesting for everybody interested in culture in general. Not only does it give insight in the development of abstract art, or of Kandinsky's art, but it will also inspire your thinking on the relation between culture and humanity. I like the idea of a 'spiritual triangle', not because I agree with it 100 %, but because it proposes an interesting perspective to look at cultural development. I would recommend this book to everyone, it's just one of those books that belong to our in ...more
Zachary
Whacked out theory about shapes favoring specific colors, colors and shapes having specific meaning (outside the painting) and a lot of references to music, which is appropriate and helps back him up as it can be wordless and completely abstract yet beautiful. I think he is trying to quantify elements of visual art and make them them key, note, tempo, etc. It's interesting to read his ides and see how they are applied in his paintings but it does not have the universal significance he seems to h ...more
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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.” 75 likes
“With cold eyes and indifferent mind the spectators regard the work. Connoissers admire the "skill" (as one admires a tightrope walker), enjoy the "quality of painting" (as one enjoys a pasty). But hungry souls go hungry away. The vulgar herd stroll through the rooms and pronounce the pictures "nice" or "splendid." Those who could speak have said nothing, those who could hear have heard nothing.” 11 likes
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