Tracing Kandinsky’s Russian Roots

BBC Radio 3 presents a guide to one of abstract painting’s pioneers.

“Black-Red” by Wassily Kandinsky (1928).

“Moscow: the duality, the complexity, the extreme agitation, the conflict and the confusion of the separate elements of its external appearance which in the end constitute an unprecedented, original, unified countenance.” So writes Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky in his memoirs about his birthplace.

One of the pioneers of abstract painting, Kandinsky spent much of his education and career in Germany, and then in France, where he produced his most prominent work. Art historian Christian Weikop, of the University of Edinburgh, takes listeners on an audio-tour of Wassily Kandinsky’s Russian roots.

He introduces listeners to Elena Preis – Kandinsky's grandniece and a respected artist in her own right – who insists that the colors and architecture of the Russian capital were a constant source of inspiration for the artist. Curator Dr. Sergey Dzikevitch even takes listeners inside the central Moscow apartment building where Kandinsky lived and worked.

“Kandinsky – A Story of Revolution” seeks to understand how the 1917 Russian Revolution and the upheaval across Europe in the early 20th century influenced Kandinsky’s life and work. 

The program is part of BBC Radio 3’s Breaking Free 2017 season.