Time Travel Back to 1926 and Watch Wassily Kandinsky Make Art in Some Rare Vintage Video

Have you ever won­dered what it would be like to trav­el back in time and look over the shoul­der of one of the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry’s great­est artists to watch him work? In this brief film from 1926, we get to see the Russ­ian painter Wass­i­ly Kandin­sky as he turns a blank can­vas into one of his dis­tinc­tive abstract com­po­si­tions.

The film was made at the Galerie Neu­mann-Nieren­dorf in Berlin by Hans Cürlis, a pio­neer in the mak­ing of art doc­u­men­taries. At the time the film was made Kandin­sky was teach­ing at the Bauhaus. It was the same year he pub­lished his sec­ond major trea­tise, On Point and Line to Plane. The con­trast­ing straight lines and curves that Kandin­sky paints in the movie are typ­i­cal of this peri­od, when his approach was becom­ing less intu­itive and more con­scious­ly geo­met­ric.

Kandin­sky believed that an artist could reach deep­er truths by dis­pens­ing with the depic­tion of exter­nal objects and by look­ing with­in, and despite his ana­lyt­ic turn at the Bauhaus he con­tin­ued to speak of art in deeply mys­ti­cal terms. In On Point and Line to Plane, Kandin­sky writes:

The work of Art mir­rors itself upon the sur­face of our con­scious­ness. How­ev­er, its image extends beyond, to van­ish from the sur­face with­out a trace when the sen­sa­tion has sub­sided. A cer­tain trans­par­ent, but defini­nite glass-like par­ti­tion, abol­ish­ing direct con­tact from with­in, seems to exist here as well. Here, too, exists the pos­si­bil­i­ty of enter­ing art’s mes­sage, to par­tic­i­pate active­ly, and to expe­ri­ence its pul­sat­ing life with all one’s sens­es.

kandinsky 1926

Relat­ed con­tent:

Helen Mir­ren Tells Us Why Wass­i­ly Kandin­sky Is Her Favorite Artist (And What Act­ing & Mod­ern Art Have in Com­mon)

The Inner Object: See­ing Kandin­sky

Vin­tage Footage of Picas­so and Jack­son Pol­lock Paint­ing … Through Glass

Watch Icon­ic Artists at Work: Rare Videos of Picas­so, Matisse, Kandin­sky, Renoir, Mon­et, Pol­lock & More


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