The Art Theory of Wassily Kandinsky, 1909-1928

The Quest for Synthesis

by Chris Short (Author)
©2010 Monographs XIV, 270 Pages


Kandinsky’s theory of art has usually been treated as little more than a guide to help our understanding of his paintings. In contrast, this book attends primarily to the artist’s writings on art; thus his art theory is treated on its own terms. Drawing on the diverse literature that has been written on Kandinsky’s art and theory, the author demonstrates that while many different perspectives on his work have been identified, none holds the ‘key’ to that work. Instead, the book shows Kandinsky’s method in his writings to be highly eclectic, resulting in an exciting and challenging variety of content (a description that also applies, as a postscript to the book shows, to his method in painting). Kandinsky, however, transcended this diversity and consistently sought evidence of the unity of all things: something that would be realised through his understanding of the term ‘synthesis’. The book follows Kandinsky’s fascinating attempts to establish synthesis (not only in art but also in other disciplines including science, mathematics, law and politics) in his key theoretical publications: On the Spiritual in Art (1911) and Point and Line to Plane (1926). The result is a new and innovative understanding of both Kandinsky’s art theory and his art.


XIV, 270
ISBN (Softcover)
Synthesis Art and Mathematics Politics and Art Wagner and Goethe
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2010. XIV, 270 pp., 16 coloured and 27 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Chris Short (Author)

The Author: Christopher Short is a Senior Lecturer in Art History and Theory at Cardiff School of Art and Design. He was a postgraduate student at the University of Essex in the early 1990s, where he completed an M.A. on the work of Wassily Kandinsky, and a Ph.D. on the relationship of the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche to German Expressionist art.


Title: The Art Theory of Wassily Kandinsky, 1909-1928