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In light of recent discussions about art as knowledge production and the ways art should or could be taught, it seems fitting to look back at the early days of modernism. Avant-garde art was not yet taken for granted then, having instead to be legitimized, interpreted, and taught.
The book posits an equivalence between art production, art theory, and art teaching, in order to artee art rational and scientific, with the aim of establishing it as an academic discipline.
Over the course of his artistic career, Kandinsky made various attempts to give an institutional form to his ideas.
Der Blaue Reiter The Blue Rider both the group and the spieituale of the same name — can be seen as the first such attempt. During his time at the Bauhaus, from his appointment in until its closure inhe pursued his analysis of art as a science and academic discipline, as reflected in Point and Line to Planea theoretical treatise published by the Bauhaus in The rigor and determination with which Kandinsky pursued the academicization of art has often been overlooked due to misunderstandings caused by his choice of words.
Right at the beginning of the book, Kandinsky claims that the representation of external reality leaves us cold as viewers.
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He describes a typical exhibition kaneinskij the time:. Animals in sunlight or shadow, drinking, standing in water, lying on the grass; near to, a Crucifixion by a painter who does not believe in Christ; flowers; human artte sitting, standing, walking; often they are naked; many naked women, seen foreshortened from behind; apples and silver dishes.
This description clearly shows that what Kandinsky found irritating about naturalist painting was its formalism. When the motif is dictated from outside, all that matters is how it is executed — the formal kabdinskij of the artist. Kandinsky opposes this formalist vision of art: For Kandinsky then, art is a medium for conveying affects.
Rather than portraying external facts, art should visualize and transport inner states of mind. Consequently, he makes inner necessity the criterion for evaluating art: And if a picture does this, it is of no consequence whether or not it is a faithful rendering of external reality. A picture may be figurative or abstract — what matters is that it uses only those forms and colors needed for the visualization and efficient transmission of certain emotions.
The greatest misconception with regard to the notion of inner necessity is that it is often understood in Expressionist terms, as an inner urge compelling the artist to paint this picture and kandinskjj that one.
The most important aspect of the argument is thus overlooked: Which is why Kandinsky later spoke of inner necessity in more functional terms: The artist is a specialist in the production kandonskij transmission of emotions, not their subject.
In this light, it is clear why Kandinsky equated art and art theory: One should not forget that rhetoric was one of the principle academic disciplines.
Ever since the early Sophist schools in ancient Greece, there has been an interest in how particular beliefs, views, emotions, and moods can be transmitted to others. This question was and remains especially important to lawyers.
Before deciding to make a name spiriituale himself as a painter, Kandinsky worked as a lawyer. So he knew only too well that the truth of a matter and the way this same truth is communicated are two different things.
The communication obeys rules of its own, and it was the rules of art, understood as a visual rhetoric, that Kandinsky sought to reveal through his own art and writing.
Il movimento del triangolo: Lo spirituale nell’arte-Sguardi sul passato
This task is indeed both artistic and scientific. This is also the significance of the remarks on the psychological effects of colors and forms that make up the greater part of Concerning the Spiritual in Art. They can be read as prolegomena to the art science of the future, framed as a study of the rules of visual rhetoric. Like Sophism before it, rhetoric has always been viewed with suspicion on account of its ability to serve evil ends.
As history was to show, this warning was not unfounded. During the Spanish Civil War in the s, Alphonse Laurencic, a French artist and architect of Slovenian origin, used the ideas in Concerning the Spiritual in Art to decorate cells at a prison in Barcelona where Francoists captured by the Republicans were held.
Each cell looked like an avant-garde art installation. With the compositions of color and form in the cells, Laurencic aimed to cause the prisoners to experience disorientation, depression, and deep sadness.
And prisoners held in these psychotechnic cells really did report extreme negative moods and suffering due to their visual surroundings. Traditionally, rhetoric has an implacable enemy: Ever since Plato, it has been asserted that truth has no need of additional rhetoric, being persuasive on the basis of it own immanent evidence.
A picture makes its impact solely thanks to the emotions it produces in the viewer via its composition — i. Later, Kandinsky was confronted with another, artee more radical claim to truth: But this time it was not the truth of referentiality, but that of self-referentiality: Instead of spirithale the geometric constructions of the radical avant-garde as entities that are immediately evident, Kandinsky analyzed their geometric lines and figures as vehicles that transport specific affects.
The point, in all of its variations square, circle, etc. The straight line, on the other hand, is interpreted as the manifestation of a specific constant force. Thanks to this transition from the lyric to the dramatic, the supposedly self-evident geometric construction is subsumed as a special case under the concept of composition. Once again, artr principle of inner necessity prevails: But Kandinsky shows that one can only speak meaningfully about the medium of the canvas if this basic plane sspirituale understood as infinite, or at least of indeterminate size.
Each of these configurations of the picture plane has a specific mood-generating effect. This critique of the usual concept of the medium, or the mediality of the medium, is indeed a profound and radical one. Kanrinskij medium only becomes the message if the medium is infinite — which it can never be. As something finite, the medium is subject to its respective particular form.
This visual rhetoric aimed to study the artistic means that transport specific affects — with the goal of accurately calculating the emotional impact of art. But like discursive rhetoric before it, whose failure led to its demise as an academic discipline, visual rhetoric was not llo to last.
Nonetheless, Kandinsky has shown that every artistic form is emotionally charged and thus also manipulative. There is no such thing as pure, autonomous, self-referential, and totally transparent art.
The role of sppirituale artist consists in taking control of this force — which can only be achieved partially. But at least the artist is capable of exploring the workings of this force — and thus focusing attention on it as such.
Dover Publications,3. Benteli Verlag,trans.
Kandinskij e Skrjabin: Realtà e Utopia nella Russia Pre-Rivoluzionaria by Luigi Verdi
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