Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Kandinsky: The Strife of Colours



"Perhaps with envy and with a mournful sympathy we listen to the music of Mozart. It acts as a welcome pause in the turmoil of our inner life, as a consolation and as a hope, but we hear it as the echo of something from another age long past and fundamentally strange to us. The strife of colours, the sense of balance we have lost, tottering principles, unexpected assaults, great questions, apparently useless striving, storm and tempest, broken chains, antitheses and contradictions, these make up our harmony."




"Yellow, if steadily gazed at in any geometrical form, has a distrubing influence, and reveals in the colour an insistent, aggressive character. The intensification of the yellow increases the painful shrillness of its note."

"Blue is the typical heavenly colour. The ultimate feeling it creates is one of rest. When it sinks almost to black, it echoes a grief that is hardly human.... In music a light blue is like a flute, a darker blue a cello; a still darker a thunderous double bass; and the darkest blue of all–an organ."



"Green is the most restful colour that exists.... Pictures painted in shades of green are passive and tend to be wearisome; this contrasts with the active warmth of yellow or the active coolness of blue. In the hierarchy of colours green is the "bourgeoisie" –self-satisfied, immovable, narrow."

"The varied powers of red are very striking. By a skillful use of it in its different shades, its fundamental tone may be made warm or cold. Light warm red has a certain similarity to medium yellow, alike in texture and appeal, and gives a feeling of strength, vigour, determination, triumph. In music, it is a sound of trumpets, strong, harsh, and ringing."



"Warm red, intensified by a suitable yellow, is orange. This blend brings red almost to the point of spreading out towards the spectator. But the element of red is always sufficiently strong to keep the colour from flippancy. Orange is like a man, convinced of his own powers. Its note is that of the angelus, or of an old violin."

"Violet is... in the physical and spiritual sense a cooled red. It is consequently rather sad and ailing. It is worn by old women, and in China as a sign of mourning. In music it is an English horn, or the deep notes of wood instruments."

"Shades of colour, like those of sound, are of a much finer texture and awake in the soul emotions too fine to be expressed in words.... For this reason words are, and will always remain, only hints, mere suggestions of colours."

— Wassily Kandinsky, Concerning The Spiritual In Art (1914)
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