color Beyond Kandinsky: Session II: The Changing Shape of Art

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


Session II: The Changing Shape of Art

Session II: The Changing Shape of Art

The session questions are intended to provide a loose framework for the discussion and to catalyze dialogue. Participants are welcome to respond to any of them in whatever way they see fit and to pose questions of their own as they arise.

(1) How has the once- privileged relationship between abstraction and the spiritual fared since Kandinsky? Does this connection still hold a century on?

(2) Does music remain the paragon of spiritual art, as Kandinsky so fervently believed?

(3) What is the current status of “the object” (i.e., art’s material embodiment) in contemporary spiritually-inclined art?

(4) Is there currently a renewed emphasis on place or site in contemporary art that might reflect a new (or newly recovered) awareness of the spiritual?

(5) Is there a unique role for time-based media such as film and video in contemporary art that aspires toward the spiritual?

(6) What role might there be for digital technology in exploring new forms of the spiritual in art?

(7) How do recent developments in artistic practice (e.g., “post-studio” practice, art-as-ritual, and trans-disciplinary work) relate to the spiritual in art?