The theory of colors by Kandinsky claims that the colors are causing the human soul to vibrate and it is a powerful tool to influence human beings as physical organisms. He recalls even repeated attempts of utilizing the power of colors for treatment of various diseases of the human nerve system. “Psychologically, says Kandinsky, it has been proven that a red light can excite and have a stimulating effect on the heart, while the blue color can even cause a temporary paralysis”. According to Kandinsky, “… color is a means of exercising direct influence upon the soul. Color is the keyboard. The eye is the hammer, while the soul is a piano of many strings. The artist is the hand through which the medium of different keys causes the human soul to vibrate. It is, thus, evident that color harmony can rest only on the principle of the corresponding vibration of the human soul. This basis can be considered as the principle of innermost necessity”.
Wassily Kandinsky, In Blue, 1925
So how is the color connected to the other forms of art that influence the human soul, such as geometric forms or musical sounds? And how colors are related to other forms of art expression such as literature or music? All of these answers are related to the theory of the “inner sound” of Kandinsky that creates the “inner vibration” in the human soul and that is how it responds to art in all of its forms – music, visual arts and literature.
According to Kandinsky, “…When religion, science, and morals, the latter by the strong hand of Nietzsche (Friedrich Nietzsche) are shaken and when the outer supports threaten to fall, man turns his gaze from the external to the deeper essence within him”. This essence is in fact art, as this is the only reality when the spiritual sphere of man takes the form of reality, as these spheres are representing the dark pictures of the present. “Yet, on the other hand”, says Kandinsky, “…they turn from the soulless life of the present to approach those substances and forms which strive freely in the non-material search and which survive even in the darkest soul”.
Wassily Kandinsky, Couple on Horseback 1906-07
One of the examples of such magic and spiritual reality, Kandinsky gives in the literature works of Maeterlinck (Maurice Maeterlinck), as it takes us to his supernatural world inhabited with “souls searching in the mist, which threatens to suffocate them, and over which an invisible, somber power floats eternally”. By taking the reader into a magical world that is supernatural and not from this earth, Maeterlinck creates a spiritual atmosphere using symbolic means, such as glossy cathedrals, moonlight nights etc. that according to Kandinsky, create the so called “inner sound” of the words in his literature works. Such sounds create in their turn, the “inner vibration” in the human soul, as the “…hearer receives an abstract impression of the de-materialized object. This creates a certain inner vibration. Thus, the green, yellow and red trees on the meadow are only the material fact, a co-incidental, corporeal conception of a tree which we may feel within us on hearing the word, ‘tree’. Skillful application (In Its poetical meaning) of the word itself, which, as an artistic necessity Is repeated twice or three times. If not more frequently, not only intensifies the reiterated sound, but also brings to light unsuspected spiritual properties dwelling in the word itself”.
Wassily Kandinsky, Landscape with Factory Chimney, 1910
The inner sound according to Kandinsky has been also used by Wagner (Richard Wagner) in his music to influence the listener and prepare him for the acquaintance of the heroic characters inhabiting his music. An example of that was his famous "leitmotif" is an attempt to emphasize heroic personalities beyond theatrical expedients, as make-up and light effects. Kandinsky points out that in such way, Wagner uses a "leit" motive being a musical medium, to create a musically expressed spiritual atmosphere, which is preceding the appearance of the hero in his works, in order to emphasize some spiritual traits of his heroic personages. Other composers, such as Debussy (Claude Debussy), according to Kandinsky, are deriving these spiritual atmospheres from the nature, and because of that he was often been compared to the Impressionist painters and their works reflecting always the colors of nature. However, Kandinsky points to the fact, that Debussy is not as materialistic and realistic as the Impressionists painters, because “… the urge of this musician for inner spiritual harmony is so strong that in his work one hears immediately the suffering soul and shaken nerves of our present-day with all its sufferings…”
Wassily Kandinsky, The Blue Rider, 1903
Similarly, to the literature, the music creates such vibrations trough sound. In relation to this, in his book, Kandinsky points out to two quotations:
"The sound of music travels direct to the soul. There it is immediately echoed because music is innate in man." and “Everyone knows that yellow, orange, and red suggest and represent ideas of joy and plenty."
According to Kandinsky, these quotations show how tight are related the different forms of art expressions, especially music and painting. It is also related to his theory of how the colors are related to the geometric forms and how these geometric forms also influence the human soul and what are the vibrations they are creating. (This aspect will be presented in some of the next articles on ArtWizard.)
Wassily Kandinsky, Molle Rudesse, 1927
Besides the via the geometrical forms, Kandinsky argues that the different colors have different dept and expression that can be described using the examples of musical instruments. As Kandinsky points out, red color for example is imagined as an abstract spiritual imagination, much like the miscall sound. It is neither a hot or cold color. However, it still creates the so called “inner note”, that sounds like trumpet, much like we associate particular musical tones to the sounds of a particular instrument.
Wassily Kandinsky, Blue Mountain, 1908-09
Having in mind the latter theory, the blue color can inhabit any geometric form and work very intensely on the human mind. As Kandinsky points out, “…the deeper the blue the more It beckons man Into the Infinite, arousing a longing for purity and the super sensuous. It Is the color of the heavens just as we Imagine It, when we hear the word heaven. Blue Is the typical heavenly color.” When it encounters the black, however, it can express a very deep sense of sorrow and by contrast, it can have a more distant character when it encounters the white color, making in this way a light blue of the sky. The closer it becomes to the white color, the more it loses it’s intensity. To illustrate the very different forms and intensity of the blue color, Kandinsky uses again the very illustrative comparison to the musical tones and instruments.
“In music”, says Kandinsky, “…light blue is like a flute, dark blue like a cello, and when still darker, it becomes a wonderful double bass. The deepest and most serene form of blue may be compared to the deep notes of an organ.”
Wassily Kandinsky, Odessa Port, 1898
Thus, colors can be expressed through sound. They can also be expressed though form and that will be presented in the next analysis of the colors theory of Kandinsky, where he plays with different forms and colors to experiment their influence on the human soul.