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On the Spiritual in Art
Edited by Hilla Rebay
Published in 1946
154 pages, fully illustrated
A seminal text in the history of modern art, Vasily Kandinsky's Über das Geistige in der Kunst was initially published in Munich in 1911. On the Spiritual in Art is the first complete English translation of Kandinsky's text. Published by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, the text was edited and translated by Hilla Rebay herself, who shared a close relationship with the artist and was deeply influenced by Kandinsky's work and theory. In this way, the book was meant to promote Kandinsky's writing much as the Museum of Non-Objectivity sought to champion his paintings. This edition is supplemented with a short survey of both color and black-and-white reproductions of Kandinsky's artistic evolution from 1904 to 1944, including comparative illustrations as well as a section of public comments left by visitors to the museum.
A painter who finds no satisfaction in the mere representation of natural phenomena, however artistic, who strives to create his inner life, enviously observes the simplicity and ease with which such an aim is already achieved in the non-material art of music. It is easily understandable that he will turn to this art and will attempt to reciprocate it with his own medium. From this derives some of the modern search in painting for rhythm, mathematical abstract construction, colour repetition, and manner of setting colour into motion. The comparison of various means with which each single art expresses itself,by learning from each other, can only be successful and conclusive if the lesson is not only superficial but truly fundamental. Thus, one art mustlearn from another how to use its common principle and how to apply it to the fundamentals of its own medium. Borrowing these methods, the artist must not forget that all mediums contain within themselves unique characteristics,and it is up to him to discover the proper application.