Kandinsky, in the book Über das Geistige in der Kunst, was a calling for a spiritual revolution within art.
Just like musicians are not depending on the material for their art, the painters shouldn’t have to depend on the material world for their art, according to him.
Kandinsky categorizes artwork into
- a pure imitation of nature, for example a portrait
- a representation of nature, according to a certain convention, for example impressionism
- expression of an inner feeling, represented by a natural shape, an image with Stimmung (feeling)
All three categories, he claims, feed the soul.
Artworks in the third category may even preserve the soul from coarseness, and have the power to “tune it up”
The artist must be blind to distinctions between ‘recognized’ or ‘unrecognized’ conventions of form, deaf to the transitory teaching and demands of his particular age. He must watch only the inclination of the inner need, and hearken to its words alone.
The inner necessity has two leading principles. They are color harmony must rest on a corresponding vibration in the human soul form harmony must rest on a corresponding vibration in the human soul.
There are plenty of forms in between where both element exist. These intermediate forms is the store on which the artist has to draw.Purely abstract forms are beyond the reach of the artist at present; they are too indefinite for him.
The book was translated to English in 1914, became Concerning The Spiritual In Art, and in the summer of 1915 Georgia O’Keeffe had it in her hand.
The two books that he (Bement at Teacher’s college) told me to get were Jerome Eddy and ‘On the Spiritual in Art’. He told me to look at the pictures in Eddy’s book – that I needn’t bother to read it – but that I should read the Kandinsky. I looked at the Eddy very carefully and I read the Kandinsky. It was some time before I really began to use the ideas. I didn’t start at it until I was down in Carolina – alone – thinking things out for myself.