Wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky, “Arabs (Cemetery)”, Oil on Cardboard, 1909, 28 x 39 Inches, Kunsthalle Hamburg, Germany

“Arabs (Cemetery)” was created by Wassily Kandinsky in 1909 and represents the artist’s experimentation with Expressionist concepts. The painting is oil on cardboard and is part of the modern art collection at the Hamburger Kunsthalle art museum in Germany.

It is among Kandinsky’s earlier works which do not yet incorporate the more severe angular forms of his later compositions. However, within this painting we witness Kandinsky’s move toward more geometric form and linear planes. The orange, green and blue hues of “Arabs (Cemetery)” emanate a tranquil feel. However, the blues contrast notably with the green and orange giving this oil painting a cool edge.

Expressionism was a volatile approach to art simply because it was relative and personal to the artist. Kandinsky, along with Franz Marc and Gabriele Münter, was one of the theoretical centers of the Der Blaue Reiter (Blue Riders), one of the pioneering movements of German Expressionism. Though Der Blaue Reiter had no official manifesto, Kandinsky’s treatise “Concerning the Spiritual in Art” of 1910 laid out several of its guiding principles. This treatise crystallized the group’s pursuit of non-objective or abstract painting and was widely read in avant-garde artistic circles across Europe and beyond.

Wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky, One of a Series of Color Studies of Squares and Circles

Wassily Kandinsky produced his early work in Russia, his mature and most revolutionary work in Germany, and his later work in France. He invented a language of abstract forms with which he replaced the forms of nature. His ultimate intention was to mirror the universe in his visionary world. He felt that painting possessed the same power as music and that sign, line, and color ought to correspond to the vibrations of the human soul.