Versatile world of Kandinsky.
M.: Nauka, 1998, 208 pp., (in Russian)
ISBN 5-02-011684-X

The edition in review is the collection of materials presented at international conference devoted to creativity of Kandinsky, first of such scale in Russia. The conference was held in Tretyakovskaya Gallery (greatest museum of Russian art) in Moscow in December 1994. The creative heritage of avanguardist artist was discussed from many points of view, this being conditioned by versatility of Kandinsky's creativity. Being painter, graphic, theoretician, poet, playwright, Kandinsky attracted attention of art historians, philosophers, literary critics, psychologists, theater critics, musicologists. The researches resulted in attempt to reconstruct the image of person featuring encyclopedical knowledges and exceptional versatility of interests. According to foreword of collection compilers (editorial board members: N.B.Avtonomova, D.V.Sarabyanov, V.S. Turchin) there were three, five or twenty "Kandinsky", the basic impulse of his creativity and strive to selfrealization being constant" (see p.3 of the edition in review).

Trying to give an idea of "twenty Kandinskys", authors of the materials analyze creativity of the artist at the intersection of the very different cultural contexts: traditions of Russian painting early in XX century, theosophic, scientific, psychological and ethnological searches. Such approach do provide the idea of "versatile world of Kandinsky" resembling in some way postmodernistical work, where person is the interception of very different cultural contexts. But as usual the approach based on puting adjacent many characteristics and properties makes one feel "gapings" in the portrait of the person researched. The person able to integrate the properties remains enigmatic nevertheless. This is inevitable because it is impossible to reveal lively soul of creating genius via scientific analysis. Thats why one has to estimate as successful, in principle, a "mosaic" form of reconstructing Kandinsky's inner world.

But the form is not the end in itself for the book compilers. It is combined , successfully, with another principle of articles arrangement. The principle is based on gradual transition from the analysis of outer cultural and spiritual influences to analysis of structure of the artist's spiritual world, of essential principles and methods of his mental-creative work. Opening articles of the book provide broad cultural descriptions that the spiritual milieu V.Kandinsky was built upon. The articles include the one on Kandinksy's place in artistic culture of XX th century, by M.A.Bessonova, and the ones on "Russian Eros", the possible theosophic views of the artist, by V.S. Turchin and J.E.Bowlt.

D.V.Sarabyanov and V.M.Sokolov analyze the influence of icon painting techniques and cheep popular prints on the Kandinsky's creative work. I.V.Messalin completes they observations with results of his researches in romantic tradition of artist's creativity (on the example of picture entitled "On points").

The next group of articles gave closer idea of painter's artistic theory (N.P.Podzemskaya), of his painting technique (M.P.Vikturina), and on scientific introspection of his own creative work (V.G.Stepanov, T.M.Pertzeva, N.B.Avtonomov).

The core of the book is several articles on synaesthetic fundamentals of thinking and on Kandinsky's idea of arts synthesis (B.M.Galeyev, Vanechkina I.L., A.S.Migunov). These materials feature serious attempt of explanation, from synaesthetic point of view, of multiformity of realization of  Kandinsky's creative impulses and , correspondingly, the reason for his transforming in "gravity point" of so heterogenous searches of  20 th century. The final part of the book consists of articles devoted to revealing subconcious aspects of his creativity, in particular on national roots of Kandinsky's creative world perception, on archetypical structures of his paintings (articles by V.V.Barayev, O.A.Tarasenko, V.V.Bychkov). The most original article is the one by V.V.Bychkov entitled "Spiritual Universe of Kandinsky". It is written in poetic "avanguadistic" form, resembling experiments of Russian futurists of 20s. This is the intuitive-essaystic way author tries to express his impressions from creativity of XX th century's painter of genius.

As a whole, the book is of interest both in cultural and in theoretical aspects. Indubitable merit of book's authors is the ability to delimit and outline a whole series of problems to be researched.


(Published in Leonardo Didital Reviews, Sept., 1999, v.7, N8)