Swinging by Wassily Kandinsky


“There is no must in art because art is free.” – Wassily Kandinsky


This will be quite a short post today as I would prefer you just looked at this masterpiece rather than listened to me ramble on for too long. This is ‘Swinging’. It was painted in 1925 by Wassily Kandinsky in oil paint on board and is quite possibly my favourite piece of art of all time.


I first saw it at the Tate Modern aged 7 while out with my family for my Grandpa’s 80th Birthday. I was fascinated by it and I just love the pure use of shape and colour. When we got to the gift shop, I was looking through the posters with my parents and we saw ‘Swinging’ was available as a print. They very kindly bought it for me and we put it in a clip frame on my bedroom wall. I looked at it every night for about 10 years and fell in love. Recently, I moved thing around and got a smaller, A4 version (also from the Tate) which I framed and it has hung at the end of my bed, on the side of my wardrobe, since I removed the larger version. Being opposite my pillow, it’s the last thing I see at night and the first when I wake up. I’ve genuinely spent hours of my life staring at this painting over the last 16 years and I feel a very personal connection to it now I’m 21..


The colours and shapes make the painting fun, friendly and warming. Everyone I talk to about it sees different things. I personally don’t like to ‘see things’ in the picture, but just follow the lines of each shape and look at every angle. Trace the edges with my eyes and then when it intersects with a new shape, trace that one and so on, constantly taking in the colour and gradients. Then I observe the painting as a whole and having focussed so hard on each tiny part, it’s amazing seeing them all together to make one, balanced piece. It’s also got just the right amount of strong lined shapes and arty, bleeding ink in the background. It’s delicate but decisive, strong and soft, artistic and graphic.


Kandinsky was a Russian artist and lived from 1866–1944. He often compared art to music and felt his expressive colours and shapes was representative of abstract music on paper. He is generally credited as the pioneer of abstract art and you can see why.


I very rarely like pieces of art without people in them. I love personal stories and I’m not usually one for abstract art, landscapes and still lives of flowers and bowls of fruit, however this wonder of shapes feels so personal and inviting, you can read Kandinsky’s thoughts and feelings in the colours and arrangement of shapes. So I leave you now with another quote from the man himself, “Colour is a power which directly influences the soul.”

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