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Houses in Munich by Kandinsky - Analysis

Kandinsky's Munich-Schwabing with the Church of St. Ursula. 1908

Kandinsky's Munich-Schwabing with the Church of St. Ursula. 1908

Detail of buildings

Detail of buildings

Detail of group

Detail of group

"Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammer, the soul is the piano with the strings." - Wassily Kandinsky

When I was first introduced to abstract art, I was outraged. How dare they call this art? If you feel that way, that's fine. Please suspend your thoughts and judgements while we look at an early Kandinsky. Criticising this is like stealing kandy from a baby, though I won't do that; I'm on a diet.

But with art, I'm never on a diet. I'll explore all kinds of art and beauty. Let's therefore look at art which is a bit abstract. This piece, titled, 'Munich-Schwabing with the Church of St. Ursula,' can be classified under abstract expressionism or something. After photography was invented, artists freaked out. They realised that they had been liberated! They did not have to do realism; photographers handled that better. Art lied in exploring other areas of art, and they explored colour, emotion, line, movement...

Kandinsky, in this period of his career, started painting pieces that quenched the needs of what he called his 'inner necessity.' In this painting, ladies and gentlemen, on your right, he made colour his subject, the hero.

The church figures, along with the buildings and the sky and everything, but they play second and third fiddles to Coiour. Colour is the hero.

The artist was greatly influenced by the impressionists and the folk art of the region. The former helped him take liberties with realism and the latter produced rich colours.

If you still have problems, take a look at a photo of the church below. Satisfied? Now you know what the church looks like and you don't need any factual information. Now, let your mind rest and your emotions take over. Feast your eyes on the yellows and blue, and note how the yellow comes forward, while the rich blue recedes. Kandinsky was interested in the meanings and mechanics of colour, and he used it to advantage.

What do you think?

The Church of St Ursula, Munich

The Church of St Ursula, Munich


Ashok Rajagopalan (author) from Chennai on November 02, 2009:

Delighted, Habee, thanks!

Holle Abee from Georgia on November 02, 2009:

Great piece, Kenny. Kinda makes me see Kandinsky's work in a new light!

Ashok Rajagopalan (author) from Chennai on June 30, 2009:

Sometimes some sentiment gets attached to pieces we loved ages ago too, associations, happy memories. I first met Dali's cubic crucifixion in the pages of Reader's Digest and will cherish that memory. :)

Iðunn on June 30, 2009:

I don't think so. although I occasionally tire of some music, I never tire of my favourite artists.

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Ashok Rajagopalan (author) from Chennai on June 30, 2009:

Anytime! And is it possible for you to fall out of love with art you once loved?

Iðunn on June 30, 2009:

I dropped back by just to enjoy the Kandinsky and you, again. :) I still love this artist.

Ashok Rajagopalan (author) from Chennai on February 03, 2008:

You are absolutely correct, William!

Oops! Not in the 'old reprobate' remark but in saying that the church is not clear in the picture. For Kandinsky, the subject plays second fiddle to the colours.

Thank you, William.

William F Torpey from South Valley Stream, N.Y. on February 03, 2008:

Enjoyed the hub, Kenny. Nevertheless my appreciation of art remains lacking. The church looks very nice in the photo, but, unfortunately, all I see in the artwork is what appears to be some kind of factory building amid in a field of various colors. I guess I'm just an old reprobate!

Iðunn on January 19, 2008:

hehehe. :) you are too kind, really. :D

Ashok Rajagopalan (author) from Chennai on January 19, 2008:

Yes, if you make people laugh, you can be as arrogant as you like! :D

Iðunn on January 19, 2008:

if you are blind to my arrogance, it's self-will and probably a sign of kindness in yourself. you're right though, I'm only arrogant in certain areas and alwayz with a degree of humour. :)

Ashok Rajagopalan (author) from Chennai on January 18, 2008:

Oh, Iðunn, I haven't reacted to your last comment! 

You sit in a quite colorful gray, though! 

I'm game to be intellectually stimulated, too. 

No, I'm blind to your arrogance.

Thank you, Isabella. Me, too! 


Isabella Snow on January 18, 2008:

I love anything with bright colors. Very nice!

Iðunn on January 16, 2008:

nice :D

I take both sides of the feminist issue politcally, which means I get attacked from both sides. it's quite fun and endlessly entertaining and I do that for a lot of issues for intellectual stimulation.

to use your colours as an analogy, I sit in the gray and let people in the black and the white attack me while I hold a stout defense in debate. I think it's the challenge :o now you see my arrogance in pseudo-intellectualism rear it's ugly head too. :D

I look forward to your next art critique. :)

Ashok Rajagopalan (author) from Chennai on January 16, 2008:

I'm doing a feminist next: Artemisia Gentileschi

Iðunn on January 16, 2008:

lol, well I'll accept that compromise but I still am going to like looking at his work. his stuff delightz me. :)

Ashok Rajagopalan (author) from Chennai on January 16, 2008:

If you can create enough illusions, magic is not indefensible!

Meanwhile, let's be kind to one another and cruel to Kandinsky! :)

Iðunn on January 16, 2008:

now you find out what I'm good at. I'm good at defending my belief in magic even if I have to defend the indefensible by creating enough illusion to make it seem viable. I'm an illusionist. But only for myself.

what you said is true, in how I would treat others, or want others to treat me but there can be exceptions to any rule. sometimes you have to work with what you've got because that's all you're going to get. :(

Ashok Rajagopalan (author) from Chennai on January 16, 2008:

Honesty without compassion is cruelty. In my book.

Iðunn on January 16, 2008:

'don't be cruel' <---sorry, kind of an elvis thing got caught in my mind. :D

well, cruelty is an odd thing. sometimes what might be defined as cruel can be something else, or made something else with a little imagination and a lot of unwisely used creativity.

Ashok Rajagopalan (author) from Chennai on January 16, 2008:

Ah, I would be. But once your art is given a museum place, I'll be cruel. But still, I was honest when I critiqued, 'The Stoop.'

Iðunn on January 16, 2008:

you were kinder to me than you were to kandinsky. I feel honoured. hehe

Ashok Rajagopalan (author) from Chennai on January 16, 2008:

Take a look; I liked it. :)

Iðunn on January 16, 2008:

don't say you weren't warned. you might have to bleach your eyes out, after.

Ashok Rajagopalan (author) from Chennai on January 16, 2008:

If you tell a child, don't look, it will look! I look forward to it!

Iðunn on January 16, 2008:

I did my own little pic for my Stoop poem. I did it with paint and beats hell out of me how anyone can draw on a computer program. I felt like I had zero control and I know it looks that way too. :p It is my only attempt at colour, by the way. Don't even look. Spare yourself.

Ashok Rajagopalan (author) from Chennai on January 16, 2008:

Aw, please. Which is your piece?

Iðunn on January 16, 2008:

haha, I'm never letting you take apart my one piece after the shooting fish in a barrel about kandinsky though. :p

Ashok Rajagopalan (author) from Chennai on January 16, 2008:

Thanks for the hehe, Iðunn. Colour is the hero just as the story is the hero in good movies.

Yes, James, the camera was the culprit. 

It first made artists feel useless, then liberated!

Welcome, Compu-smart! It's a joy when you visit and comment, for me! :}

Ah, Frank, you revealed the basis of good matrimony. 

Appreciate the spouse's taste and go along. 

And take abstract along. Thank you. 

MrMarmalade from Sydney on January 16, 2008:

Never been a fan.

Val bought an abstract art about 25 years ago and we have moved from one house to another and it goes with right of position. I still don't like it, she does. so naturally I do.

Thanks for great comparisions.

Tony Sky from London UK on January 16, 2008:

Kenny, Thanks for being my teacher....You explain the Power and mechanics of colour in a great, humorous and simple way (as always) and it's always a joy to visit your work.


JamesRay from Philadelphia on January 16, 2008:

I have a much greater appreciation for abstract art now. I never linked the invention of the camera to the creation and proliferation of abstract expression.

Iðunn on January 16, 2008:

"classified under abstract expressionism or something." <-- hehe. I like things that don't fit it and/or otherwise fall between the cracks. I like this guy's work. I love his colours and there is something in the way he uses them that adds up to more than the sum. His work is like joy personified. I see him in my mind as a happy person and it doesn't surprise me to find out 'color' itself was his hero. How lovely!

Ashok Rajagopalan (author) from Chennai on January 16, 2008:

I have those 'phases,' too, Gemma. It's good in a way. Then we go deep into that area, and know more about it than the average person.

Smiles and Light. :)

AuraGem from Victoria, Australia on January 16, 2008:

Kenny - This is a magnificent hub! Love the way you gently walk us through new ideas! I love art so much - any form of art, though I do have my preferences and sometimes even fads. For awhiles there, I was totally hooked on "visionary art" and spent little time in other art "places". But that season has passed thankfully, though elements linger, and I am open once again to other art spaces.

Thank you for a great hub!

Smiles and Light

Ashok Rajagopalan (author) from Chennai on January 16, 2008:

Thank you, Colleen! Yes, his later work is quite different.

C.M. Vanderlinden from Metro Detroit on January 16, 2008:

Another great one, Kenny!! I admit to feeling the same way you did when introduced to abstract art---my first love is the classic art of the Renaissance. But I can appreciate the emotion and vitality in abstract art now. I hadn't seen this Kandinsky before. It seems that his later work gets more attention.

Very clever of you to include a photo of the actual church to help us compare and contrast, by the way. Great work!

Ashok Rajagopalan (author) from Chennai on January 16, 2008:

In answer to Iðunn's request in the comments of an earlier hub.

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