Happy 147th birthday to Wassily Kandinsky!

Born on this day in 1866, Kandinsky’s art and theoretical writings were instrumental to the development of abstraction in the early twentieth century. This lithograph from the Blanton’s permanent collection was made during the artist’s first year as a professor at the Bauhaus, and stands out as one of the few nonfigurative works in a portfolio that includes Surrealist, Cubist, and Futurist works. Using shards of primary color, overlapping geometric shapes, and competing gestural strokes, Kandinsky exploded the idea that expression and content in art depend on the figure. Distributed throughout Europe and the United States, the portfolio of which this lithograph is a part spread revolutionary ideas about the definition and function of art in an increasingly democratic and global society. View a zoomable version of this work on our website.

Wassily Kandinsky, “Bauhaus Prints - New European Graphics, 4th Portfolio: Italian and Russian Artists,” 1922, four-color lithograph from four stones, Gift of Mr and Mrs. Richard Gonzalez, 1989.

Happy Birthday to Vassily Vassilyevich Kandinsky, the Russian artist credited with painting the first purely abstract works. Kandinsky’s creation of abstract work followed a long period of development and maturation of intense thought based on his artistic experiences. He called this devotion to inner beauty, fervor of spirit, and spiritual desire inner necessity; it was a central aspect of his art.

Circles in a Circle”, 1923, Vassily Kandinsky.