Wassily Kandinsky (Russian, 1866 – 1944)
Wassily Kandinsky pioneered abstract painting in the early 20th century. He believed that geometric forms, lines, and colors could express the inner life of the artist—a theory quite evident in his own explosive paintings, which were often inspired by music. Today, Kandinsky’s canvases sell for tens of millions at auction and belong in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Tate, among other prestigious institutions. In 1911, Kandinsky played a central role in organizing Der Blaue Reiter, a group of avant-garde artists in Munich that included Franz Marc and Paul Klee. From 1922 to 1933, he taught at the Bauhaus, the historic Weimar institution that brought together artists including Josef Albers, Lazlo Maholy-Nagy, and Piet Mondrian.