Famous Synesthetes

Wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky © Jon Stich 2012

Vasily Vasilyevich Kandinsky, commonly transliterated as Wassily Kandinsky, was born in 1866 in Moscow, Russia into a merchant family. In 1892, he graduated from Moscow University with a degree in law. In 1896, Kandinsky gave up a promising legal career to study art in Munich, first with Anton Azbè, and then Franz von Stuck at the Akademie der Künste. Kandinsky had several influences during his early career including the French impressionists, through which he discovered an affinity for indigenous art forms, including Bavarian glass painting and Russian icons. Throughout his career, Kandinsky had a deep desire to integrate the verbal, the visual, and the musical, especially noticeable in his work Concerning the Spiritual in Art, where he argues that painting can vibrate and emit an inner sound (Kandinsky, 1977). Kandinsky explored the idea that certain parallels exist between the diatonic scale, the spectrum, and a consonance between colors and shapes, e.g., certain shapes can represent certain sounds and different colors can represent different shapes and sounds (Kandinsky, 1947). Kandinsky’s theories underpin the scientific recognition of the cognitive effect of art on human perception. While Kandinsky did not consider himself an expressionist, his thoughts on the communicative powers of art influenced several succeeding generations of abstract painters, most notably Jackson Pollock.



Jerome, A. (1977). Sound in Kandinsky’s painting. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 35(3), 329-336.

Kandinsky, W. (1947). Point and line to plane. New York, NY: Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation.

Kankinsky, W. (1977). Concerning the spiritual in art. New York, NY: Dover Publications.