Kandinsky, a pioneer of abstract painting, is credited with the liberation of artists from representational conformity.
Born in Moscow in 1866, he was dazzled as a child by the colours of nature. He studied music, law, economics and ethnography, and only decided to become a painter after thoroughly training in each of these disciplines.
After two years at art school in Munich he travelled extensively, spending long periods of time in Holland, France, Tunisia and Italy. During these years his experiments in impressionism and post-impressionism intensified.
Gradually his work moved from highly coloured interpretations of landscapes to powerful visions of a dreamed or imagined world. This was the beginning of Kandinsky's great dramatic period and in turn the birth of abstract art.
When war broke out in 1914 Kandinsky, then living in Germany, returned to Russia. After the 1917 revolution he took an active part in the reorganisation of Russian museums and art schools. He later returned to Germany, where he taught at the Bauhaus School and was one of the artists featured in the 1937 'Degenerate Art Exhibition' whose works were confiscated by the Nazis. He subsequently moved to France, where he died in 1944.