Major Kandinsky Retrospective Brings Modern Masterworks from the Centre Pompidou-Paris to the Frist Center

Kandinsky: A Retrospective September 26, 2014-January 4, 2015

Jul 23, 2014, 14:16 ET from Frist Center for the Visual Arts

NASHVILLE, Tenn., July 23, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Frist Center for the Visual Arts presents Kandinsky: A Retrospective, an exhibition celebrating a lifetime of work by Wassily Kandinsky (1866–1944) in the Center's Ingram Gallery from September 26, 2014–January 4, 2015. Chronicling four decades of artistic evolution—from early figurative works to exuberant experiments in abstraction and color—this exhibition invites visitors on an extraordinary stylistic journey of one of the most innovative modern art masters of the twentieth century. 

Kandinsky: A Retrospective is drawn largely from the collection of the Centre Pompidou–Paris, and features more than 100 paintings, drawings and other works. A majority of these stunning works were part of the artist's personal collection and were given by the artist's widow, Nina. Additional paintings from the Milwaukee Art Museum, including works by Gabriele Munter, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, further an appreciation of the artist in the context of his contemporaries.

Organized chronologically and spanning the artist's periods in Russia, Germany and France, the exhibition begins with paintings from the early 1900s including landscapes, painted folk tales and figurative works. "These works show how the young artist was influenced by major styles such as Art Nouveau, Impressionism, Symbolism, and Post-Impressionism," says Frist Center Chief Curator Mark Scala. In a period of experimentation and movement towards more symbolic work, Kandinsky and other like-minded artists founded Der Blaue Reiter (the Blue Rider) in 1911, a group of artists based in Munich who emphasized the expression of extreme psychological conditions in their art. "Kandinsky made a radical move away from recognizable subject matter in the belief that painting's most important property was its capacity to dissolve the outside world and evoke inner conditions," says Mr. Scala.

Kandinsky felt that music has the capacity to induce spiritual feelings within listeners through its formal arrangement of melodic sounds, harmonies and rhythms. He believed that "painters could similarly 'orchestrate' the elements of art—color, form, and line—to trigger pure emotional experiences," says Mr. Scala. In the theoretical treatise Concerning the Spiritual in Art, Kandinsky wrote that "color is the keyboard. The eye is the hammer, while the soul is a piano of many strings. The artist is the hand through which the medium of different keys causes the human soul to vibrate."

In 1914, Kandinsky returned to Russia, his country of birth, and married Nina Andreevskaya in 1917. Facing financial hardship and material shortage during World War I and the Russian Revolution, his artistic output was somewhat limited. However, the paintings that Kandinsky did complete, some marking a return to Impressionism, further demonstrated his belief that art should comfort and convey inner meaning rather than provoke and express political views, as other avant-garde Russian artists believed.

Back in Germany during a period of heady intellectualism in the 1920s at the Bauhaus, a highly influential German art school, Kandinsky favored geometric works and created monumental decors, including the large scale mural panels he and his students designed for the Juryfreie Kunstschau—Berlin (Non-juried Art Exhibition—Berlin). The panels, built for a never-realized museum lounge, were intended to immerse the viewer in a complete aesthetic experience. A 1977 reconstruction of this room is a highlight of this exhibition, and as Kandinsky initially desired, lets "the viewer 'stroll' within the picture." In stark contrast with the rigid geometry of the Bauhaus period, Kandinsky's paintings from the end of his life and career in France are recognized for their joyful use of biomorphic forms, which reflect the influence of Parisian light and nature as well as Surrealism.

Exhibition Credit

Kandinsky: A Retrospective is organized by the Centre Pompidou—Paris and the Milwaukee Art Museum. 

Sponsor Acknowledgment

Platinum Sponsor: The HCA Foundation on behalf of HCA and TriStar Health

Silver Sponsors: Anne and Joe Russell

Hospitality Sponsor: Union Station Hotel

This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

The Frist Center for the Visual Arts is supported in part by the Metro Nashville Arts Commission, the Tennessee Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Exhibition Catalogue

The exhibition is accompanied by a 202-page illustrated catalogue distributed for the Centre Pompidou, Paris, and the Milwaukee Art Museum by Yale University Press.

About the Frist Center
Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit art exhibition center dedicated to presenting and originating high quality exhibitions with related educational programs and community outreach activities. The Frist Center offers the finest visual art from local, regional, national, and international sources in a program of changing exhibitions that inspire people through art to look at their world in new ways. Located at 919 Broadway in downtown Nashville, Tenn., the Frist Center's Martin ArtQuest Gallery (open until 5:30 p.m. each day) features interactive stations relating to Frist Center exhibitions. Information on accessibility at the Frist Center is found at Gallery admission to the Frist Center is free for visitors 18 and younger and to members. Frist Center admission is $10.00 for adults and $7.00 for seniors, military and college students with ID.  College students are admitted free Thursday and Friday evenings (with the exception of Frist Fridays), 59 p.m.  Discounts are offered for groups of 10 or more with advance reservation by calling (615) 744-3247.The Frist Center galleries, Café and Gift Shop are open seven days a week: Mondays through Wednesdays, and Saturdays, 10 a.m.5:30 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays, 10 a.m.9 p.m. and Sundays, 15:30 p.m., with the Frist Center Café opening at noon. Additional information is available by calling (615) 244-3340 or by visiting our website at

SOURCE Frist Center for the Visual Arts