Is there an artistic or philosophical connection between Wassily Kandinsky and Georgia O’Keeffe? To do research on this brings with it a few problems. One such problem is that O’Keeffe often minimized or ignored her sources publicly and seems to have been more interested of Kandinsky’s ideas than of his art.
O’Keeffe studied for Arthur Dow could have prepared her for the abstract path and as she was an admirer of Arthur Wesley Dove‘s art, she could have attained a visual understanding of Kandinsky through him. (More on Dow & Dove later.)
It is problematic to make a distinction between Kandinsky, Dow and the culture streams at the time. What proof is there that O’Keeffe’s music paintings were created thanks to Kandinsky and that they were not inspired by Whistler’s Nocturnes? (More later on Whistler as well.)
In these articles, I have not made a clear distinction between the concepts of symbolism and romanticism, for the purpose of clarifying the point of the northern European influence on O’Keeffe’s art, as one unifying influence. Also, more and more I realized when writing about this subject for the first time, that I take the artist’s stand as opposed to wanting to create a theory in art history.
After all, isn’t it the actual art it is supposed to be all about?
Here’s from Kandinsky’s On The Spiritual In Art:
The spiritual triangle moves slowly onwards and upwards.
Today one of the largest of the lower segments has reached the point of using the first battle cry of the materialist creed. The dwellers in this segment group themselves round various banners in religion. They call themselves Jews, Catholics, Protestants, etc. But they are really atheists, and this a few either of the bolder or the narrowest openly avow.
“Heaven is empty,” “God is dead.” In politics these people are democrats and republicans. The fear, horror and hatred which yesterday they felt for those political creeds they now direct against anarchism, of which they know nothing but its much dreaded name.
(From Kandinsky’s Concerning the Spiritual in Art; the chapter Spiritual Revolution, page 10.)
Read Kandinsky’s On The Spiritual On Art online here: