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Concerning the Spiritual in Art (Dover Fine Art, History of Art) Paperback – 2 Jan 2000


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Product details

  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications Inc.; Revised edition edition (2 Jan. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486234118
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486234113
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 14 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 36,670 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

Seminal. --The Independent --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Adrian Glew is Archive Curator at Tate in London, and the editor of Stanley Spencer: Letters and Writings. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kon Markogiannis on 30 Jun. 2011
Format: Paperback
Wassily Kandinsky was one of the pioneers of abstract painting who sought to free art from its traditional bonds to material reality. With his creative practice and theoretical work he attempted to bring together the spiritual idea of art with the aesthetic idea of art. "Concerning the Spiritual in Art" is a text that revolutionized twentieth-century painting and continues to influence artists up to the present day. "More than any other single factor, this book helped disseminate and foster acceptance of the new principles upon which much of modern art developed."
In a consumer age like ours is -where art is characterized by commodification and business tactics- "Concerning the Spiritual in Art" (first published in 1911) still holds its ground: it opposes prevailing materialist attitudes and "demands" an art that is an expression of an "inner need". The "inner need" is built up of three "mystical" elements: the personality/idiosyncrasy of the artist, the "spirit" of the age (the current styles/trends) and "pure artistry" (the "eternal" aspect of art).
Influenced by the Theosophical movement (which sees life as an evolutionary process, a kind of geometric progression divided into different stages), Kandinsky suggests that society can be represented in diagram as a triangle. The base of the triangle represents the majority of people -the masses- who have no interest in promoting spiritual issues; moving towards the peak of the triangle there is a rise of spiritual awareness (and a subsequent drop in the number of people). In Kandinsky's opinion, the artist (or other charismatic people such as the philosopher) stands alone at the peak of the triangle- a kind of misunderstood genius whose task is to promote cultural and spiritual growth.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By B. G. Strand on 4 Dec. 2008
Format: Paperback
Kandinsky considered art closely paralleled music in its development and argues his theory in a series of short,but readable essays.He also includes an interesting chapter on personal abstract expressionism,from which he derives the title to this unabridged enlightening book .This gives further insight into the mind of perhaps the most 'intriguing' artist of the 20th century.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Alastair McIntosh on 13 April 2010
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This is a fantastic short book. I am amazed I hadn't heard of it before. It only came to my attention recently when one of my students, Nic Green, used it as a basis for her essay at the Centre for Human Ecology: the student teaching the teacher.

Kandinsky, who was one of the founders of modern art, sets out to confront the crass materialism of his era. In this, he stands in the tradition of Russian art that sees "Art as service" - and specifically, as service of that which has the sacred at its core.

He understands "spirituality" as being the interiority of things, their inner source of meaning and life. This leads to his attack on artistic narcissism, saying, "This neglect of inner meanings, which is the life of colours, this vain squandering of artistic power is called 'art for art's sake'." (p. 3). It needs to be understood that the cultural backdrop to this was that Russian intellectual life had been split by half a century of "positivism" coming in from the West - the materialistic idea that only "facts" matter, "the triumph of the fact", and that there is, as the positivists would have it, no God, therefore no soul, thus their nihilism.

Just as writers at the time such as Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy attacked positivism in their novels, so a number of late 19th century Russian painters did so in their art - see From Russia: French and Russian Master Paintings 1870-1925: from Moscow and St Petersburg. One of the most influential, Ivan Kramskoi, was an initiator of The Wanderers (or Itinerants) circle, in Russian, the Peredvizhniki. As he put it, "What is a real atheist? He is a person who draws strength only from himself" (ibid. p. 164).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By DD Abraham on 29 Nov. 2010
Format: Paperback
I havent got very far with this book as yet but what I have taken in is how fluent Kandinsky was in his creativity.

This book will give my own work deeper insights as I endeavour to look beyond my own reasoning to find deeper truths within all that I create. I am looking forward to reading further.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lady P on 20 Jan. 2010
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There are few books written by the Master Artists themselves and so a book containing essays written by Wassily Kandinsky was eagerly received. I have always wanted to know more about his gift of synaesthesia. Although at times I found the artistic language difficult to follow, I must say that personally, there were points of view which did inspire me enormously and still have bearing on attitudes within the art world today but that is the essence of this book; he was a visionary.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Henry's Cat on 17 Aug. 2013
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Not too full of impenetrable art twoddle, short and an easy read, this book is.a very useful insight into the artist's mind. Well worth a read and will no doubt provide good a good source for art history students.
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