Written by Davide Parlato

Translated by Leandro Bonan


“Punctum est situm habens sed extensionem (sue partes coexistentes extra partes) non habens”.

(Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, Selected works and notes)


On December 17th the exhibition Kandinsky, with more than 80 paintings coming from the Centre Pompidou (Paris), was inaugurated at Palazzo Reale, in Piazza Duomo (Milan) and it can be visited until the 27th April 2014. It represents a marvellous opportunity to discover more about one of the greatest artists of the 20th century modernity, both from an artistic and from an historical and conceptual point of view. A very well-planned path guides the visitors through the work and the life of the Russian artist, from his period in Munich, to his return to Russia, from the Bauhaus experience until the last time in Paris. The paintings are organized according to a  diachronic perspective and the whole exhibition highlights not only a figural-formal evolution of Kandinsky’s work, but also an evolution in his conceptualization of being.

Kandinsky’s art is normally considered, mainly because of academic necessity, as part of the abstract current, and such consideration appears very well motivated, according to a formal point of view. Though, since the first paintings, it is possible not notice that the composition in not more than the pure act of underlining: the abstraction process refers, in principle, to this very scope. The primitive act of the abstract painter is the progressive abandonment to the common shapes, in order to achieve a structure that is not necessarily bare, but focused.  It is an order of representations that, usually, and just like in this case, is performed by a use of colours that follows precise laws of movement. The colour, already in the first instance, is line: it’s goal is not to fill: it is to create.

We must remember at this point Kandinsky’s cultural background, and it is necessary to place the artist within a specific strain: the one that yearns for the fulfilment of its travel. That is to say the strain between the Soviet materialism and the European spiritualism: between the materialist conception of the world and the obsessive search for solemnity. Herein lies Der Blaue Reiter: here blooms the first Kandinsky, in his dichotomous but complementary act of painting, oscillating between the care of the form and the interpretation of the colour. The spiritual in art.


The progressive departure of the painter from the Munich group coincides with a very new direction in his painting, which becomes composition of clean forms and lines. The colour progressively ceases to fill and becomes form; in fact the first basic geometric forms (circle, triangle and square) are associated to the three primary colours (blue, yellow, red) according to a precise semantic game, which reached its maximum level of formality in the written work Point, Line, Surface (1925):

“The geometric point is an invisible and immaterial entity. If we think of it materially, it equals a zero. Though, in such a zero, several properties hide themselves, and they can be considered as “human”. We represent this zero – the geometric point – as associated to the maximum synthesis, that is to say to an extreme reserve, that speaks, though. In such a way, in our representations, the geometric point is the highest and the unique and very connection between silence and word”


Abstraction then turns out to be the sublimation of Art in the graphic sign, and that prevents us from speaking about abstraction. In fact, Abs-trahere is an objective operations which extrapolates from the multitude the forms. A sieve, a network, hence Mondrian. He can more than anyone else be linked to the abstract current and he can be considered the abstractor par excellence, especially if we consider his intellectual path. But in dealing with Kandinsky we have something more and something less: we have in fact less figurative rigorousness, which in Mondrian’s painting is very elevate, but we have more attention (and this is what divides the painter from the abstract current) towards the sign, in the sense of key to interpret the multitude, the voice of the universe, key between “silence and word”: the sign is a linguistic act. A precise will to define the disorder, that brings in order, κόσμος (kòsmos).

The paintings of the exhibition tell us clearly how, progressively, Kandinsky “abstract himself” from the sensorial perception of the reality to represent on canvas sets of forms, hanged to a surface of meanings, to represent the world through the sign that, for antonomasia, is what build up the representation. The world is unknowable and the man understands the reality thanks to the only available principle of order he understands: himself. The mind shapes the world, understandable only in terms of representations as a computable reality – and the sign becomes the basis of such a transcendent cryptography (to use an expression typical of Kant).

Art elevates itself therefore not only as imitations of nature, but as linguistic expression of a ordering principle: art is what gives a meaning to the reality.

Kandinsky’s compositions demonstrate that in their very structure: a frame of plots, trails, roads that converge, maybe not to the centre, but at least towards a focal point, the eye of the artist. He does not see the reality: the reality is not to be painted, neither in symbolic terms – we are not speaking expressionism. What is represented is the pattern of meanings which the man builds to navigate the real: the reality that the man creates.

Sometimes the external details are those that open the eyes, such as a signature at the bottom of the picture. Is not a painting, but it is configured as if it were so: a “K ” inscribed in a triangle , in a broken line, or in a circle . A signature that is the mark of the ruler, of the subject who,  he looks at the world and especially because he shapes the world, is its owner and absolute configurator.

The diachronic exhibition of Kandinsky’s works helps conceive gradually such a gradual realization, such a progressive domination of the form. The continuous going-on of the search reveals the parable of music, the coloristic dictionary. But, above all, the formal actualization of the representation in its purest form: that of a mental network.

Open on:

Mon 14:30 – 19:30

Tue, Wed, Fri, Sun 9:30 – 19:30

Thu, Sat 9:30 – 22:30

For further information, please go on the specific page on the website of the Comune di Milano:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.