Celebrating the Life of Anton Kandinsky

It has been just over a month since the passing of Anton Skorubsky Kandinsky from heart failure in his Manhattan studio on January 10, 2014. Not to be confused with early 20th century Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky (whose body of work includes some of the first abstract paintings ever created), the Ukrainian Anton started two movements of his own and was well-known for his masterful use of humor in art. Kandinsky was 53.


Anton S. Kandinsky


Kandinsky was born in 1960 in Crimea, Ukraine, to a family of artists. He studied extensively in Ukraine as well as in St. Petersburg, Russia, where he was a private art student of Yevsey Yevseyevich Moiseyenji. Kandinsky graduated from the Ukrainian Art Academy with a Masters of Fine Art degree in 1986, and emigrated to the United States in 1998, living and working in New York since 2000.


Kandinsky was best known for his humorous artwork and movements, skilfully conveying true humor without being overly sentimental, the consequences of which in Richard Vine’s introduction of Kandinsky.


“An emotional slip, a lapse of taste, and one descends immediately into the sentimental realm of genre-scene painters and Norman Rockwell. Thus it is no contradiction to say that the former-USSR artist Anton Kandinsky treats every subject as a joke, and every joke as a fundamentally serious matter.”


Kandinsky found inspiration both within and without the art world, which served as the impetus for his two movements, Gem-ism and China-ism. Both commented on political and economic themes while using humor to create highly engaging works on multiple levels. Again, Richard Vine, here discussing Gem-ism:


“Why this repeated association between jewels and combat? One simple answer is that greed for resources and wealth has always been a prime motivation for war, even when disguised—consider present U.S. actions in the oil-rich Middle East—as a selfless drive to liberate. (Kandinsky’s studies of American troops in desert terrain turn an antiterrorist slogan back on itself: “If you see something,” the inscription reads, “say something.” Apparently what the artist sees, and here obliquely portrays, is hypocrisy.) Less immediately striking, but more intellectually refined, is the treatment of gems, in their esthetic purity, as visual counterbalances to the low, mad instincts that prompt endless mayhem. Every Kandinsky jewel is a gleaming joke on human nature—lampooning its grossness while merrily inspiring its self-transformation.”

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