The Kandinsky Effect

Vasily Kandinsky, who was born in Russia in 1866 and died in France in 1944, is considered one of the first abstract painters in modern art. As an artist, he began in the traditional style of painting, creating works that are recognizably representational. But as he progressed, his creative impulses moved more and more toward the abstract. Perhaps he was inspired in this direction through his knowledge of music, for he was also a musician.

Color and musical harmony have long been linked together conceptually. The connections between the two modes of expression have intrigued many people, Sir Isaac Newton included. For Kandinsky, the connection between sound and color was even more organic. He once said, “Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the harmonies, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul.”

The progress of Kandinsky’s art from the representational to the abstract can be likened to a quest toward a purer visual music, something that would create the “vibrations in the soul” without having to go through the mind’s laboring to recognize forms.

“Light Picture” by Vasily Kandinsky

“Light Picture” by Vasily Kandinsky

For the abstract artists who followed Kandinsky, the search for that personal “vibration in the soul” led in many directions. Some moved toward the hard-edged geometric explorations, while others explored seemingly chaotic splashes of color. But in the end, when it comes to abstract art, we need to recognize that the artistic expression does speak from some inner energy, some inner music, of the specific artist.

“A Tad Giddy” by Diana Hobson

“A Tad Giddy” by Diana Hobson

The works of Diana Hobson are filled with color and movement. She brings a bright energy and “music” to the canvas that holds the viewer. The titles of her composition are part of the experience, leading the viewer’s thoughts into a new way of identifying that harmonic response to the world. Many of her works are on display at her gallery in Venice.


“Light Picture” (1913), by Vasily Kandinsky, located at the Guggenheim Museum, NY. Copyright Artists Rights Society. Used by Fair Use for instruction.

“A Tad Giddy”, by Diana Hobson, copyright Diana Hobson.


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