Author: Born in Moscow in 1866, Kandinsky was fascinated with colors and color symbolism throughout his youth. Kandinsky studied law and economics at the University of Moscow and was later offered a teaching position at Derpt University in Tartu. Being more interested in art, Kandinsky decided to move to Munich to study and perfect his painting skills. Kandinsky went on to become a famous painter and art theorist. During the years of WWI and WWII, he moved between Germany, Russia, and France. Kandinsky died in 1944 in France.
Context: Published in 1912, two years before the outbreak of WWI, Kandinsky was writing in what was still considered to be the Belle Époque period in Europe: the optimistic and progressive time before the horrors of WWI.
Language: The language of Kandinsky’s work is fairly simple and does not contain any complex speech or phrasing. His introduction, in its entirety, is structured in a logical fashion.
Audience: Given that the language is not difficult to understand, Kandinsky wrote to the middle and upper classes. He also may have directed his ideas toward the lower class since art does not require the observer to be literate.
Intent: Kandinsky’s intent was to call attention to the impurities and soullessness of current art in general, artists, and observers. He craved a purification of art’s spirituality.
Message: Kandinsky explained that all art is a child of its age and its preceding generation is unable to be truly recreated. He believed the current cultural mindset was awakening from an era of stark materialism, but emphasized that materialism is still prevalent in most art. Kandinsky explained that observers of art, who neglect the artist’s inner meanings and colors, are left unchanged after viewing a painting. Kandinsky disapproved this wasteful “art for art’s sake.” He also denounced artists for their greed and lust for material reward from their paintings. Kandinsky ultimately believed that the current phase of art is barren and cannot progress until someone, who is capable of leading art to its true potential, emerges from the fray of the materialistic and spiritless current form of art.