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Wassily Kandinsky and His Engagement with Experimental Psychology

30 September 2021

Anne Regina Grasselli, University of Edinburgh

The preoccupation of Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) with scientific theories of visual perception and their role in his move toward an abstract non-objective art has been a key subject of research on the artist. These have focussed for the most part on the influence of the publications of the founders of Gestalt psychology, Max Wertheimer (1880-1943), Wolfgang Köhler (1887-1967), and Kurt Koffka (1886-1941), whose theories on visual perception do bear some important similarities with those expressed by Kandinsky.[1] Kandinsky himself, however, stated forcefully in the 1928 second edition of his second major book, Punkt und Linie zu Fläche (Point and Line to Plane), that his ideas predated those of the Gestaltists.[2] Indeed, there are clues in both his writings and his art that he was influenced by the work of an earlier generation of psychologists, including Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920) and Theodor Lipps (1851-1914). Connections with Lipps’ research have been noted before, but the importance of Wundt, who is regarded as the ‘father of experimental psychology’, for Kandinsky’s work has not previously been recognised.[3] Presented here is some evidence of his early contact with the theories of Wundt and Lipps and his later use of some of their diagrams as the basis of painted compositions and theories. Continue reading “Wassily Kandinsky and His Engagement with Experimental Psychology”

Book Review: Dance, Modernism, and Modernity

Róisín O’Brien 

1 June 2020

Ramsay Burt and Michael Huxley, Dance, Modernism and Modernity, (London: Routledge, 2019)

Ask someone what comes to mind when they hear the term ‘modern dance’, and you may get a vague answer relating to jazz, or that it’s ‘not ballet’. Ramsay Burt (De Montfort University) and Michael Huxley’s (De Montfort University) book Dance, Modernism and Modernity (2019) explores, amongst other things, how choreographies of ‘authenticity’, or the popular appeal of some productions, might not sit within but instead expand notions of modernism(s), alongside investigating how dance intersects with modernity. The authors aim to look at how ‘dancing developed and responded to, or came out of an ambivalence about, or a reaction against, the experience of living in modern times’ (p. 1). Continue reading “Book Review: Dance, Modernism, and Modernity”

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