Duality according to Wassily

I was in the school library today and I found a fabulous book. Kandinsky's Concerning the Spiritual in Art. He is a colour man, and in the book he discusses the relationships between forms and colour as well as the primal emotional responses humans have to the various combinations. It may be a tad early to nitpick on colour, but I've picked a few passages which are full of good expressive language I feel may help us set a tone or mood.

The first bit explains his theory on reasoning behind our first and lasting impressions.


To let the eye stray over a palette, splashed with many colours, produces a dual result. In the first place one receives a purely physical impression, one of pleasure and contentment at the varied and beautiful colours. The eye is either warmed or else soothed and cooled. But these physical sensations can only be of short duration. They are merely superficial and leave no lasting impression, for the soul is unaffected. But although the effect of the colours is forgotten when the eye is turned away, the superficial impression of varied colour may be the starting point of a whole chain of related sensations.
On the average man only the impressions caused by very familiar objects, will be purely superficial. A first encounter with any new phenomenon exercises immediately an impression on the soul. This is the experience of the child discovering the world, to whom every object is new. He sees a light, wishes to take hold of it, burns his finger and feels henceforward a proper respect for flame. But later he learns that light has a friendly as well as an unfriendly side, that it drives away the darkness, makes the day longer, is essential to warm, cooking, play-acting. From the mass of these discoveries is composed a knowledge of light, which is indelibly fixed in his mind. The strong, intensive interest disappears and the various properties of flame are balanced against each other. In this way the whole world becomes gradually disenchanted. It is realized that trees give shade, that horses run fast and motor-cars still faster, that dogs bite, that the figure seen in a mirror is not a real human being.
As the man develops, the circle of these experiences caused by different beings and objects, grows even wider. They acquire an inner meaning and eventually a spiritual harmony. It is the same with colour, which makes only a momentary and superficial impression on a soul but slightly developed in sensitiveness. [...] And so we come to the second main result of looking at colours: their psychic effect. They produce a spiritual vibration, and it is only as a step towards this spiritual vibration that the elementary physical impression is of importance.


He goes on to discuss the connection between taste and sight, and "scented colours".

A second section I liked, which the previous is really just a precursor for, talks about earthly and heavenly colour.


Yellow, if steadily gazed at in any geometrical form, has a disturbing influence, and reveals in the colour an insistent, aggressive character. The intensification of the yellow increases the painful shrillness of its note.
Yellow is the typically earthly colour. It can never have profound meaning. An intermixture of blue makes it a sickly colour. It may be paralleled in human nature, with madness, not with melancholy or hypochondriacal mania, but rather with violent raving lunacy.
The power of profound meaning is found in blue, and first in its physical movements (1) of retreat from the spectator, (2) of turning in upon its own centre. The inclination of blue to depth is so strong that its inner appeal is stronger when its shade is deeper.
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. When it rises towards white, a movement little suited to it, its appeal to men grows weaker and more distant. In music a light blue is like a flute, a dark blue a cello; a still darker a thunderous double bass; and the darkest blue of all--an organ.


I can write up more of this if people are interested. My imagination is running wild! In fact, it is supposed to be asleep right now. This old Kandinsky fellow is whispering sweet nothings in my ear!

1 comments:

Mélanie Daigle said...

Really neat stuff - I'm all for you writing up more of it. Besides, I need all the help I can get as far as colour is concerned!