University of Illinois at Chicago
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Apocalypse According to Vasily Kandinsky

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posted on 2014-06-20, 00:00 authored by Aleksander Najda
Abstract The main objective of this dissertation is to identify and analyze the influence of Russian icons, frescoes and popular broadsheets (lubki) and prove their essentiality to Vasily Kandinsky’s breakthrough into abstraction. This study scrutinizes the painter’s thematically and stylistically radical transition during the five-year period prior to the outbreak of the First World War and argues that the stimulus of the Russian sacred and folk art was far greater than previously thought. The dissertation points out that the 1910 visit to Russia was critical to Kandinsky’s artistic development. It attaches significance to the painter’s participation in the artistic ambiance of Moscow and maintains that exposure to Neo-primitivism and to the mystic currents within Russian philosophy was instrumental to Kandinsky's progress, since the artist stood in need of an imaginative graphic foundation for his messianic vision of the New Spiritual Era. This dissertation assesses the interconnection between Kandinsky’s specific visual, formal strategies and his emerging synthesis of a wide variety of spiritual traditions, practices, and beliefs and their zeitgeist. The study ascribes particular importance to Kandinsky’s religious orthodoxy and his drive toward the genetic apprehension of the Word; to the concept of affirmative, positive (cataphatic) theology and negative (apophatic) theology and scrutinizes the artist’s use of reverse perspective, which takes into account the intuitive, spiritual, and psychological aspects of the creative process. The dissertation is specifically focused on the first seven Compositions since they represent and chronicle the artist's path to abstraction.



Hales, Peter B.


Art History

Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level

  • Doctoral

Committee Member

Higgins, Hannah Fineberg, Jonathan Markowski, Michal Jackson, Matthew J.

Submitted date



  • en

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