Kandinsky, 1933-1944, les années parisiennes
Contrary to the artists mentioned in this letter, Wassily Kandinsky did not die at a late age. He was only 78 years old when he passed away in Neuilly, in December 1944, a few months after the Liberation of Paris. For him, as for more ancient artists such as Dutch painter Jan Lievens – a contemporary of Rembrandt – who started a brilliant career at the age of 12 but died in severe poverty -, the question is how to reinvent oneself. Indeed, though he started painting at the age of 30 (in 1896), Kandinsky found himself at the age of 45 crowned as the first abstract painter in the world (“The destruction of the object is concluded in 1911”, Christian Zervos said elegantly in Cahiers d’art in 1934). How do you continue to trace your path over the following thirty years? The catalogue of the exhibition at the museum of Grenoble –that continues until 29 January 2017 – shows his last period when he left the Bauhaus which had been closed by the Nazis and curiously found refuge in France. He sought inspiration in botany or embryology, tinkering during the Occupation with whatever materials were available (cardboard, Ripolin), wandering between the Surrealists and the advocates of strict Abstraction, he continued until the end to produce symphonies of signs and colors, less cerebral, more diverse than before. He was not really considered a prophet in his new country, of which he became a full-fledged citizen in 1939: his famous Concerning the spiritual in art, written in 1911, partially translated into English in 1912, available in Italian as of 1940, would not be translated into French until 1949, after his death.
Review published in the newsletter #456 - from 19 January 2017 to 25 January 2017