Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts


Art History


Dr. Kathryn Brush


This thesis examines the artwork and writings of Wassily Kandinsky (1866–1944) from a medieval/modern perspective, proposing that Kandinsky’s lifelong interest in the medievalizing folk traditions of Russia and Germany was fundamental to his artistic practice. In the second half of the nineteenth century, large populations moved from the countryside into urban centres as a result of industrialism in such countries as England, Germany, France, and Russia. Kandinsky was one of many artists, writers, and philosophers who looked back to a “purer” Middle Ages in response to turn-of-the-century cultural anxieties. By imaginatively reconstructing the Middle Ages, Kandinsky and his peers sought to create a buffer against the perceived degeneracy and turbulence of the modern world. This study analyzes the medievalisms of Kandinsky’s artistic practice in relation to the work of his contemporaries, and proposes that this medieval/modern perspective can only enrich our understanding of this highly influential artist and thinker.

Available for download on Sunday, September 01, 2030