color Beyond Kandinsky: Clarification re Kandinsky's spiritual experiences

The year 2011 marks the centennial of the publication of Wassily Kandinsky's classic text, On the Spiritual in Art. Inspired by this anniversary, this project set out to explore the place of the spiritual in contemporary art and to propose a challenge to the current devaluation of the inner life that prevails within the art world in our market-driven era.

Beginning on Wednesday, March 30th, 2011, a ten-day virtual symposium moderated by Taney Roniger and Eric Zechman was held in this forum. The symposium closed on the evening of Friday, April 8th. Below is the full record of the proceedings.

Panelists invited to participate were: Suzanne Anker, Laura Battle, Connie Beckley, Anney Bonney, Deirdre Boyle, Nathaniel Dorsky, Jeff Edwards, James Elkins, Max Gimblett, Tom Huhn, Atta Kim, Roger Lipsey, Enrique Martinez Celaya, Joseph Nechvatal, Daniel Siedell, Charlene Spretnak, David Levi Strauss, Alan Wanzenberg, and Pawel Wojtasik. For participant biographies and other project details, please visit our site:


March 30th–April 1st: Session I: The Spiritual Then and Now

April 2nd–April 3rd: Session II: The Changing Shape of Art

April 4th-5th: Session III: Art and Its Audience

April 6th–April 7th: Session IV: The Artist in Society

April 8th: Conclusions


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Clarification re Kandinsky's spiritual experiences

Before we leave Session I, I'd like to add that Kandinsky did have, from a very early age, the type of spiritual, or mystical, experiences described by Alex Grey in his post. It was clear to him from about age four that every entity has its inner reality as well as its outer form. When he became an artist in Munich in his 30s, he struggled to figure out what could replace the objective subject in painting. At some point in 1908 he realized that his childhood insight was the answer: he would try to depict the dynamics of inner reality. This decision was, of course, in sync with the fascination among his peers with the invisible world -- but Kandinsky brought a life-long depth of engagement to the project. This resulted in what Jeff Edwards called in his first post Kandinsky's "palpable sense of boundary-pushing" from 1909 on. However, when Kandinsky turned his attention to "inner necessity," his previous heightened sense perceptions of the world faded. He no longer walked through Bavarian streets with an almost electric sense of the bright yellow mailboxes and the blue ceramic house numbers, he noted. Instead, he increasingly dwelt in the realm of the subtle processes and dynamic relationships that infuse the physical world.

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