Kandinsky – Art Documentary (1986/2010)
Director: André S. Labarthe
Studio: RM Arts/ArtHaus Musik 106 048 [Distrib. by Naxos]
Video: 4:3 color
Audio: English, French, German, Italian options – DD 2.0
Length: 56 minutes
Wassily Kandinsky, who lived to 1944, was a pioneer of abstract painting. He came to the art world rather late in his life, but made a huge impact on modern art. One of his first totally abstract pictures dates from 1914, and he wrote essays on his theory of “the spiritual in art.” He is also credited with creating the first abstract water color.
There is no motion picture footage of Kandinsky and evidently not many photographs. The director of this rather dated-looking French film didn’t use an actor to depict Kandinsky, as Ken Russell would have done. Much of the survey of his work is carried out as the camera moves thru a gallery displaying some of his works on the walls. In between and on the soundtrack the director made the overly obvious choice of using an unidentified female pianist playing portions of Mussorgsky’s Pictures At An Exhibition. It struck me as something a beginning student in film school might do. After viewing the documentary I didn’t feel I knew any more about Kandinsky than I had before seeing it.
— John Sunier