Around 1920: Concerning the Spiritual in Art?
Kandinsky wanted art that was spiritual and stood apart from the material world. The question is, however, whether the experiences of World War I are nevertheless evident in Kandinsky’s work?
In 1911 Wassily Kandinsky published his main treatise on art theory Concerning the Spiritual in Art. Kandinsky’s fundamental idea is that art should contribute to a general spiritualisation of culture and society.
A striving for the spiritual
Kandinsky regards “the spiritual” as something which is immaterial, not linked to the everyday world we inhabit. It is something “inner”, something belonging to the soul, far removed from “outer” things and events. Art should contribute towards making the spiritual real, e.g. through the evocative properties of colour and abstract forms: point, line, and plane.
To Kandinsky the graphic series Small Worlds (Kleine Welten) represented the quintessence of spiritual art. The Small Worlds supposedly belong within the realm of the spiritual, unaffected by any influence from the material world. The question is, however, whether Kandinsky’s ”explosions” of colour and shapes can nevertheless be viewed as an afterimage of e.g. the experiences of World War I? If so, the outer world impinges on the spiritual image.