Wassily Kandinsky (1866 – 1944) was a painter and art theorist of Russian origin. He is credited with painting one of the first purely abstract works. Born in Moscow, Kandinsky spent his childhood in Odessa, where he graduated at Grekov Odessa Art school. He enrolled at the University of Moscow and chose to study law and economics. Quite successful in his profession—he was appointed professor of Roman Law at the University of Dorpat—Kandinsky began painting studies (ancient-Russian art, icon painting and study of old masters).

When Kandinsky returned to Moscow in 1896, he exhibited his first, impressionistic paintings in an exhibition by the society of Russian watercolorists. His work was not well received and caused angry reactions. Kandinsky then decided to move to Germany, where he settled in Munich in 1896. There, he abandoned the world of law and devoted himself entirely to painting. He met other avant-garde artists, such as Alexei Jawlensky, David Burliuk and Vera Rockina, with whom he co-founded the Munich Secession in 1909, and through which he had his first solo exhibition in 1910.

During World War I, Kandinsky returned to Moscow, where he co-founded the artgroup “Jack of Diamonds”. While in Moscow, Kandinsky also worked for the magazine “Messages of Labour” and taught at the Bauhaus school of art and design from 1922 until the Nazis closed it in 1933. He then settled in France, at Neuilly-sur-Seine.

Kandinsky’s work is often described as lyrical and expressive, yet his approach to painting was highly theoretical—he was deeply interested in color theory and wrote several treatises on the subject. His work was a major influence on the development of abstract art.