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Vasily Kandinsky was born December 4, 1866, in Moscow. From 1886–92, he studied law and economics at the University of Moscow, where he lectured after graduation. In 1896, he declined a teaching position in order to study art in Munich with Anton Azbe from 1897 to 1899 and at the Kunstakademie with Franz von Stuck in 1900. Kandinsky taught in 1901–03 at the art school of the Phalanx, a group he had cofounded in Munich. One of his students, Gabriele Münter, would be his companion until 1914. In 1902, Kandinsky exhibited for the first time with the Berlin Secession and produced his first woodcuts. In 1903 and 1904, he began his travels in Italy, the Netherlands, and North Africa and his visits to Russia. He showed at the Salon d’Automne in Paris from 1904.
In 1909, Kandinsky was elected president of the Neue Künstlervereinigung München (NKVM), a newly founded group that in the same year gave its first show at the Thannhauser’s Moderne Galerie in Munich. In 1911, Kandinsky and Franz Marc withdrew from the NKVM and began to make plans for Der Blaue Reiter Almanac. In December of the same year the Blaue Reiter group’s first exhibition was held at the Moderne Galerie in Munich and Kandinsky’s published On the Spiritual in Art. In 1912, the second Blaue Reiter show was held at the Galerie Hans Goltz, Munich; Der Blaue Reiter Almanac was published, and Kandinsky’s first solo show was held at Der Sturm gallery in Berlin. In 1913, one of his works was included in the Armory Show in New York and the Erster deutsche Herbstsalon at the Der Sturm gallery in Berlin. Kandinsky lived in Russia from 1914 to 1921, principally in Moscow, where he held a position at the People’s Commissariat of Education.
Kandinsky began teaching at the Bauhaus in Weimar in 1922. In 1923, he was given his first solo show in New York by the Société Anonyme, of which he became vice-president. Lyonel Feininger, Alexej Jawlensky, Kandinsky, and Paul Klee made up the Blaue Vier group, formed in 1924. He moved with the Bauhaus to Dessau in 1925 and became a German citizen in 1928. The Nazi government closed the Bauhaus in 1933 and later that year Kandinsky settled in Neuilly-sur-Seine, near Paris; he acquired French citizenship in 1939. Fifty-seven of his works were confiscated by the Nazis in the 1937 purge of “degenerate art.” Kandinsky died December 13, 1944, in Neuilly.