By Lisa Florman

ISBN-10: 0804784841

ISBN-13: 9780804784849

This booklet examines the paintings and writings of Wassily Kandinsky, who's commonly considered as one of many first artists to supply non-representational work. the most important to an knowing of Kandinsky's intentions is On the religious in Art, the distinguished essay he released in 1911. the place so much students have taken its repeated references to "spirit" as signaling quasi-religious or mystical issues, Florman argues as an alternative that Kandinsky's basic body of reference used to be G.W.F. Hegel's Aesthetics, during which paintings had equally been offered as a automobile for the constructing self-consciousness of spirit (or Geist, in German). as well as shut readings of Kandinsky's writings, the booklet additionally contains a dialogue of a 1936 essay at the artist's work written via his personal nephew, thinker Alexandre Kojève, the most important Hegel student in France at the moment. It additionally offers specific analyses of person work by means of Kandinsky, demonstrating how the improvement of his oeuvre demanding situations Hegel's perspectives on smooth artwork, but operates in a lot an identical demeanour as does Hegel's philosophical procedure. in the course of the paintings of a unmarried, an important artist, Florman provides an intensive new account of why portray grew to become to abstraction within the early years of the 20 th century.

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Whereas in painting the content is subjectivity, more precisely the inner life inwardly particularized, and for this very reason the separation in the work of art between its subject and the spectator must emerge and yet must immediately be dissipated because, by displaying what is subjective, the work, in its whole mode of presentation, reveals its purpose as existing not independently on its own account but for subjective apprehension, for the spectator.  . e. 9 In its presentation of a space that was only apparently three-dimensional—that existed only through and for human consciousness—romantic painting was to be seen, Hegel argued, as a direct manifestation of spirit’s increasing inwardness and autonomy.

Painting of this sort, Kandinsky held, would in every way be music’s equal where the expression of subjective inwardness was concerned. Interestingly, his argument seems in many ways anticipated by a passage in the Aesthetics where Hegel discusses the development of painterly sfumato: This magic of the pure appearance of color has in the main only appeared when the substance and spirit of objects has evaporated and what now enters is spirit in the treatment and handling of color. 30 No doubt, in saying as much, Hegel hoped to prepare the next transition in his narrative of the romantic arts by suggesting that the use of sfumato by Leonardo and his contemporaries reflected painting’s own aspirations toward the condition of music.

Brigid in particular helped me to see several important aspects of my argument whose full weight I had not quite caught, and Hal pointed me to the essay on Hegel and Kandinsky by Jean-Joseph Goux that importantly shaped my conclusion. A number of colleagues at Ohio State University, both past and present, also contributed enormously to this book, often in ways difficult to measure. No doubt my deepest debt is to Stephen Melville, whose frequent talks with me about Hegel (and all manner of other things) I miss more than I can say.

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Concerning the Spiritual—and the Concrete—in Kandinsky’s Art by Lisa Florman

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