The Information on: Kandinsky at the Royal Academy

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The Independent Culture
What Is It?

First British retrospective for Wassily Kandinsky (below), widely acknowledged as the founder of abstract art, comprising 139 works by the Moscow-born artist, who died aged 78 in 1944. There's little doubt as to Kandinsky's influence on modern art, but the exhibition has prompted some critics to highlight his limitations.

Who Was He?

Born in Russia in 1866, Kandinsky abandoned a law career to go to art school in Munich. Initially, his work was typified by fantasy images, before he became a key figure in the German avant-garde movement, and then turned towards abstraction. The First World War brought his progressive period to an end for the most part, and he retreated to Russia.

What They Say About Him

"I think you have to admit that the pictures are not much good... he simply can't do energy and he can't do tension," Tom Lubbock, The Independent

"Around 1912, Kandinsky embarked on a voyage into an abstract universe... He was a liberator, and the finest exhibits from that period charge his Royal Academy exhibition of works on paper with an impassioned, surging energy," Richard Cork, The Times

"A painting by Kandinsky is hard to grasp as a stable mental image, although fragments and passages from it will stick in your mind... adding to that feeling of Kandinsky-ness that you know is somehow important to the history of modern art... it is all a bit unconvincing," Adrian Searle, The Guardian

Where You Can See It

Kandinsky: Watercolours and Other Works on Paper at the Royal Academy, W1 (0171-300 8000/5760) to 4 Jul

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