In this famous work by a pioneer in the movement to free art from the bonds of tradition—a work long considered essential to understanding the evolution of. Kandinsky in the second chapter of the essay Punkt und Linie zu Fläche, published in The book has the In June , Wassily Kandinsky There are three primary graphical elements in any artwork: the point, the line and the plane. which the artist draws or paints the basic plane, or BP. He Download PDF Point and Line to Plane (Paperback). Authored by Wassily Kandinsky. Released at.
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contribution to the analysis of the pictorial elements. by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation for the Museum of Non-Objective Painting in New York. Translation of Punkt und linie zu fläche. POINT AND LINE TO PLANE BY WASSILY KANDINSKY KAN Dl NSKY POINT AND LINE In , Kandinsky wrote his famous book "On the Spiritual in Art," a . In this book, published 16 years after Concerning the Spiritual in Art, Kandinsky digs deeper in the research of interaction of nature, arts, and human, though.
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On the other hand, ease in creating and ease in correcting are characteristics which are particularly suited to the present day. The present day is only a springboard to "tomorrow" and only in this role can it be accepted with innermost tranquility. No natural difference can or should remain superficial — it must point to the profound depth, that is, to the inner life of things.
Likewise, technical possibilities grow in just as functional and purposeful a manner as any other potentiality, whether it be in "material" life spruce tree, lion, star, louse or in the spiritual realm art work, moral principle, scientific method, religious idea. Even though on the surface the individual appearances of plants differ so Root greatly from each other that their inner relationship remains obscured — even though these phenomena seem chaotic to the superficial eye — they can, nevertheless, on the basis of their common inner necessity, be traced back to the same root.
It is in this manner that one learns the value of differences which, although False they always are originally purposeful and well-founded, avenge themselves Ways frightfully in monstrous abortions when they are handled in a frivolous manner. This simple fact can readily be observed in the more restricted field of the graphics — the failure to understand the basic differences in the above- mentioned technical potentialities has repeatedly lead to useless and, therefore, repulsive works.
They owe their existence to the inability of recognizing the inner life behind the external appearance of things — the soul, hardened like an empty nutshell, has lost its capacity to penetrate any longer the depths of things where the pulsebeat, beneath the outer husk, becomes audible. The specialists of 19th Century graphics were not infrequently proud of their ability to make a woodcut resemble a pen drawing, or a lithograph look like an etching.
Works of this sort can be designated only as testi- monials of spiritual poverty. The cock's crowing, the door's creaking, the dog's barking, however cleverly imitated on a violin, can never be esti- mated as artistic accomplishments.
Material While paper can be used as material for these three different techniques, the relation of the particular tool in each case is fundamentally different. This accounts for the continued existence, side by side, down to the present day of these three techniques. Tools and Origin of the Point Of the various kinds of etching, drypoint is used by preference today because it harmonizes especially well with the present day atmosphere of haste, and because it possesses the incisive character of precision.
The basic plane can here remain entirely white, and in this white the points and lines lie deeply and sharply embedded. The etching-needle works definitely and with the greatest determination and bores eagerly into the plate. The point is created first in the negative through a short, precise prick in the plate. The needle is pointed metal— cold. The plate is smooth copper — warm.
The pressure of the press is powerful. The plate eats its way into the paper. The paper penetrates the smallest depressions and tears out the colour. It is an impassioned process which leads to the complete fusion of the colour with the paper. Thus, the small black point — the pictorial proto-element — is here created. The point is created in such a way that the instrument does not touch it — the point is encircled — like a fortress — with a ditch, and great care is taken not to injure it.
In order that the point may enter the world, it is necessary to do violence to its entire surroundings; to tear them out and destroy them. The colour is rolled onto the surface in such a way that it covers the point and leaves the surrounding area free.
The future print can already be clearly seen upon the block. The pressure of the press is light — the paper must not make its way into the depressions, but must remain upon the surface. The small point does not sit in the paper, but on the paper. It remains for its inner forces to claw their way into the surface.
The plate: The tools: Lastly, a fine atomizer spray tech- nique. Great diversity, great flexibility. The colour rests lightly and insecurely. Its union with the block is very loose and it can easily be removed by grinding — the stone returns immediately to its original chaste condition.
The point is there in a moment — with the speed of lightning, without effort and loss of time — only a brief, superficial contact. The pressure of the press — fleeting. The paper touches impartially the entire block and reflects only the parts which have been fructified. The point sits so lightly upon the paper that it would not be surprising if it were to fly off it.
This is the way the point sits: Thus, the point — remaining always a point — takes on different aspects and is, thereby, a changing expression. Texture These last remarks relate to the special question of texture. The term "texture" signifies the manner in which the elements are exter- nally combined with each other and with the basic plane.
This mode of combination depends on three factors which may be classified schemati- cally as follows: Even in the very limited field of the point, attention should be given to texture possibilities Figs. Despite the narrowly drawn con- fines of this smallest of elements, the different means of producing it are, nevertheless, of importance, since the sound of the point takes on each time a different colouration in accordance with the manner of its creation.
We have, therefore, to consider: J Fig. Nevertheless, even in this restricted realm, considerations of texture retain their full significance. Texture is a means to an end and it must be looked upon as such and so used. In other words, texture must not become an end in itself; it must serve the idea residing in the composition purpose , just as does every other element means.
Otherwise, an inner disharmony arises in which the means drown out the end. The external has taken over the inner — mannerism. In this case may be seen one of the differences between "objective" and abstract art.
In the former, the sound of the element "in itself" is veiled, thrust back; when abstract, it attains its full, unveiled sound. The small point, especially, is able to give incontestable testimony of this.
Abstract Art In the field of the "objective" graphic, there are prints composed entirely of points a famous "Head of Christ" can be mentioned as an example in which the points are intended to produce the effect of lines. It is clear that this is an unjustifiable use of the point, since the latter, stifled by the representation and with its inner sound weakened, is condemned to a poverty-stricken half-life. Proofs of this are self-evident. Everything which in very general terms has been said here about the point, has to do with the analysis of the self-contained, stationary point.
Changes in its size bring with them corresponding changes in its character. In this 1 A quite different case is the division of a surface into points which is dictated by technical necessity as, for example, in zincography, where the division of the surface into points by the screen is unavoidable — the point is not intended here to play an independent role and, to the extent that the technique permits this, it is deliberately repressed. Force from Within 53 case, however, it grows out of itself; out of its own center; and only a relative diminuation of its concentric tension results.
Force from There exists still another force which develops not within the point, but Without outside of it. This force hurls itself upon the point which is digging its way into the surface, tears it out and pushes it about the surface in one direc- tion or another.
The concentric tension of the point is thereby imme- diately destroyed and, as a result, it perishes and a new being arises out of it which leads a new, independent life in accordance with its own laws. This is the Line. It is the track made by the moving point; that is, its product. It is created by movement — specifically through the destruction of the intense self-contained repose of the point. Here, the leap out of the static into the dynamic occurs.
The line is, therefore, the greatest antithesis to the pictorial proto- element — the point. Viewed in the strictest sense, it can be designated as a secondary element. The forces coming from without which transform the point into a line, can Origin be very diverse. The variation in lines depends upon the number of these forces and upon their combinations. In the final analysis, all line forms can be reduced to two cases: This is the straight line whose tension represents the most concise form of the potentiality for endless movement.
For the concept "movement," which is used almost everywhere, I have substituted the term "tension. This division creates, furthermore, a basis for the differentiation of various kinds of elements as, for example, point and line. Of these, the point carries only one tension within it and it can have no direction; the line definitely shares in both the tension and the direction. If, for instance, the straight line were to be investigated from the standpoint of its tension alone, it would be impossible to distinguish a horizontal line from a verti- cal.
The above holds equally true in connection with colour analysis, since some colours are to be distinguished from others only in the directions of their tensions. The simplest form of the straight line is the horizontal. In the human imagination, this corresponds to the line or the plane upon which the human being stands or moves. The horizontal line is also a cold sup- porting base which can be extended on the level in various directions.
Coldness and flatness are the basic sounds of this line, and it can be designated as the most concise form of the potentiality for end- less cold movement. Guggenheim Foundation, New York City, and this particular reference will be found on pages 60 to 64, inch] A cautious use of these concepts is especially important in the analysis of "form in drawing," since it is right here that direction plays a definite role. It is to be observed with regret that painting is least well provided with an exact terminology which renders scientific work exceedingly difficult and sometimes quite impossible.
One must start here from the beginning and a dictionary of terminology is a necessary preliminary. An attempt at this was made in Moscow about I9I9 but has achieved 58 no results. Perhaps the time was not then ripe. In complete contrast to this line, in both an external and inner sense, is the vertical which stands at right angles to it, and in which flatness is supplanted by height, and coldness by warmth.
Therefore, the ver- tical line is the most concise form of the potentiality for end- less warm movement. The third type of straight line is the diagonal which, in schematic form, diverges from both of the above at the same angle and, therefore, has the same inclination to both of them; a circumstance which determines its inner sound — equal union of coldness and warmth. These three types are the purest forms of straight lines and they are differ- entiated from each other by temperature: Tempera- ture Endless movement.
Most concise forms of the potentiality for endless movement. To a greater or smaller extent, all other straight lines are only deviations from the diagonal. The differences in a greater or lesser tendency to cold- ness or to warmth determine their inner sounds Fig.
In this way is formed the star of straight lines which are organized about a common meeting-point. Plane Formation This star can become ever denser and denser so that the intersections form a more compact center, in which a point develops and seems to grow. This is the axis about which the lines can move and, finally, flow into one another; a new form is born — a plane in the clear shape of a circle Figs. It may be remarked briefly, that in this case we have to do with a special characteristic of the line — its power to create a plane.
This power ex- presses itself here in the same manner that a shovel creates a plane with the incision-like lines it cuts into the earth.
Moreover, the line can by still another method produce a plane, but of this I will speak later. The difference between the diagonals and the other diagonal-like lines, which one could with justification call free straight lines, is also a tem- perature difference as the free straight lines can never attain a balance between warmth and coldness.
Free straight lines can, thereby, lie upon a given plane with a common center Fig. Free straight lines unbalanced lines: Yellow and Blue The acentric free straight lines are the first straight lines to possess a special capacity — a capacity which they share to a degree with the "colourful" colours, and which distinguishes the latter from black and white.
Yellow and blue, especially, carry within them different tensions — tensions of advancing and retreating. The purely schematic straight lines horizontals, verticals and diagonals — but especially the first two , develop their tensions on the plane and exhibit no inclination to leave it. In the case of free straight lines and, above all, the acentric ones, we observe a loose relationship to the plane: These lines are farthest removed from the point, which claws itself into the plane, since they especially have abandoned the element of rest.
In the case of the bounded plane, this loose relationship is possible only when the line lies freely on it; that is, when it does not touch its outside boundaries. This will be discussed at greater length in the chapter "Basic Plane.
The natural connec- tions between the "graphic" and the "pictorial" elements, which we can to some extent recognize today, are of immeasurable importance to the future theory of composition. Only in this direction, can planned exact ex- periments in construction be made in our laboratory work, and the mis- chievous fog in which we are today condemned to wander, will certainly become more transparent and less suffocating.
Black and White 62 When the typical straight lines, principally the horizontals and verticals, are tested for their colour characteristics, a comparison with black and white forces itself, logically enough, upon our attention.
Just as both of these colours which until recently were called "non-colours" and which today are somewhat ineptly termed "colourless" colours are silent colours, both of the above mentioned straight lines are, in the same manner, silent lines. Here and there, the sound is reduced to a minimum: Black and white lie outside of the colour wheel. If we examine black and white from the stand- point of temperature, we find white more apt to be warm than black and that absolute black is inwardly unquestionably cold.
It is not without reason that the horizontal scale of colours runs from white to black Fig. In addition in the case of white and black, the elements of height and depth can be noted as coinciding with vertical and horizontal. This is the last step of the descent, the end of the blind alley.
In former times, such places were called "abysses;" today the modest expression "blind alley" suffices. The "modern" individual seeks inner tranquility because he is deafened from outside, and believes this quiet to be found in inner silence. Out of this, in our case, has come the exclusive preference for the horizontal-vertical.
The further logical conse- quence would be the exclusive preference for black and white, indications 1 See "On the Spiritual in Art," whers I call black the symbol of death and white, of birth. The same thing can with complete justification be said about the horizontal and the vertical — low and high. The former is lying; the latter is standing, walking, moving about, finally climbing upward.
Supporting — growing. Passive — active. But the exclusive association of the horizontal-vertical with black and white has still to take place; then everything will be immersed in inner silence, and only external -noises will shake the world. The flight into the past has been frequently in evidence during the last decades— Greek "Classic," Italian Quattrocento, the later Rome, "primitive" art including "wild beasts" ; now, in Ger- many — German "old masters," in Russia — the icons, etc.
The future seems empty to the "modern" human being. Graphic Form. Pictorial Form. Straight Line: Primary Colours: The parallel: It may only briefly be stated: The diagonal reveals this difference from free straight lines: The point resting in the center of a square plane was defined above as Proto- the harmonizing of the point and the plane, and the total picture desig- 5ouna nated as the prototype of pictorial expression. A horizontal and vertical in a central position on a square plane would constitute a further com- plication of this case.
These two straight lines are, as has already been said, things living solitary and alone, since they know no repetition. They therefore develop a strong sound which can never be completely drowned out and, thereby, represent the proto-sound of straight lines. This belongs in the field of colour theory. Suggestions concerning this are to be found in "On the Spiritual in Art. Therefore, the next step from the schematic point picture to the schematic line picture is reached through a surpris- ingly great increase of the means: The combination has doubled these 6 sounds.
This example, which is really part of the theory of composition, was given here with the intention of suggesting the reciprocal effect of the simple elements in elementary combinations, where the expression "elementary" — in an imprecise, flexible sense — reveals the "relativity" of its nature. This means that it is not easy to fix a limit for the complex and to use the elementary exclusively.
Nevertheless, these experiments and observa- tions offer the only means of getting to the bottom of pictorial things which serve the ends of composition. This method is employed by science itself, and has thereby attained — despite excessive one-sidedness — a pri- marily external order and continues today with the aid of keen analysis to forge its way through to primary elements.
In this manner it has, after all, placed before philosophy a rich and well-ordered body of material which — sooner or later — will lead to synthetic results. The science of art must travel the same road, in the course of which, however, it should from the very outset unite the external with the inner. During the gradual transition from horizontal to free acentric lines, The Lyric the cold lyric character is transformed into an ever warmer one until it and the Dramatic finally acquires a certain dramatic flavor.
The lyric quality, nevertheless, remains dominant. The entire field of straight lines is lyric, a fact which can be explained by the effect of a single force from the outside.
The dramatic and in the cases mentioned, the acentric carries within it — aside from the sound caused by relocation — the sound of collision as well, for which at least two forces are necessary.
The action of two forces in the realm of the line can take place in two ways: It is evident that the second process is more temperamental and, thereby, "hotter," especially since this process can be looked upon as the result of the action of many alternating forces.
Correspondingly, the dramatic effect mounts, until at last purely dra- matic lines come into existence. Point Forces: Angular Lines I B. Angular Lines. Since angular lines are composed of straight lines, they belong under heading I and are placed in the second class under the heading B.
Angular lines originate from the pressure of two forces in the following manner Fig. It would be advisable to investigate first the lyric or dramatic content of every phenomenon chosen for translation, and then to seek in the corresponding linear realm, a form suitable to the given case. Furthermore, an analysis of the already existing "translated works" would throw a strong light on this question.
There are numer- ous examples of such translations in music: The Russian composer, A. Schenschin, has made extremely valuable experiments in this direction — "Annees de Pelerinage" by Liszt which relates to Michael Angelo's "Pensieroso" and Raphael's "Sposalizio. The simplest forms of angular lines consist of two parts, and are Angles the result of two forces which have discontinued their action after a single thrust.
This simple process leads, moreover, to an important difference between straight and angular lines: The plane is in the process of creation, and the angular line becomes a bridge. The differences between the countless angular lines depend entirely upon the sires of the angles, in accordance with which they can be divided into three typical groups: Thus, with the first three angular lines, a fourth— an atypical angular line—can be included.
There can be only 4 right angles which touch each other — they either touch with their points and form a cross or, by the touching of their diverging sides, they form right-angle planes — in most instances creating the square. The horizontal-vertical cross consists of one warm and one cold line — it is nothing other than the central position of the horizontal and vertical.
This accounts for the cold-warm or warm-cold temperature of the right angle, depending upon its direction. Details concerning this will be given in the section entitled "Basic Plane. Absolute Sound The absolute sound of the given forms depends upon three conditions, and changes as follows to: They can also, on the other hand, be used singly or in pairs — a matter which depends upon the con- struction as a whole. All three sounds cannot be entirely eliminated, but one or the other can out-sound the rest to such an extent that they can scarcely be heard.
The most objective of the three typical angles is the right angle, which also is the coldest. It divides the square plane into exactly 4 parts. The acute angle is the tensest as well as the warmest. It cuts the plane into exactly 8 parts. Increasing the right angle leads to the weakening of the forward tension and the desire for the conquest of the plane grows in proportion.
This Triple Sound 71 Three Sounds greed is, nevertheless, restrained in so far as the obtuse angle is not capa- ble of dividing the plane exactly: The three different sounds of these three forms thereby correspond: These three sounds and, therefore, these three angles, give a fine graphic translation of the artistic process: Angular Lines and Colour We spoke above of 4 right angles which form a square. The relationships with the pictorial elements can only be briefly discussed here, but still the parallels of angular lines with colours must be indicated.
The cold-warm of the square and its definite plane-like nature, immediately become sign- posts pointing to red, which represents a midway point between yellow and blue and carries within it cold-warm characteristics.
It is not, therefore, completely without justification that the right angle is placed on a parallel with red. The obtuse angle increasingly loses its aggression, its piercing quality, its warmth, and is, thereby, distantly related to a line without angles which, as will be shown below, constitutes the third primary, typical form of the plane — the circle. The passiveness in the obtuse angle, the almost missing forward tension, gives this angle a light blue tone. In addition, further relationships can be indicated: This process can be given the following graphic expression: AV B BV.
AH B BH. Acute angle. Right angle. Obtuse angle. Since, however, the typical angles in their continued development can form planes, the further relationships between line-plane-colour arise auto- matically. We may therefore make the following diagrammatic indica- tion of the line-plane-colour relationships: Angular Lines: Similar facts are not unknown to other sciences, e. For example: My task is to point out "organic" relationships between the elements of painting.
Furthermore, one must not in such cases be deterred by possible mistakes: The circle is, at all events, a special case among the three primary forms — straight lines are unable to create it. In this way, the components would be derived from the sum — lines from the plane — and vice versa. Artistic practice supports this professed rule in so far as black-white painting — consisting of lines and points— acquires a more pronounced balance by the addition of a plane or planes, as the case may be: This need is evident to a still greater degree in colour painting, a fact well known to every painter.
Method Inter- national Art Institutes My aim in considerations of this sort extends beyond the attempt to establish more or less accurate rules. It appears to me to be almost as important to stimulate discussion about theoretic methods. The methods of art analysis have been, until now, far too haphazard and, frequently, too personal in nature.
The coming period demands a more exact and objective way to make collective work in the science of art possible. Preferences and talents remain different here as well as elsewhere, and the work accomplished by each person can be only in accordance with his powers.
For this very reason, a work program accepted by many is of especial importance. Here and there arises the idea of art institutes work- ing in a systematic way— an idea which will surely soon be realized in various countries. It can be maintained altogether without exaggeration, that a science of art erected on a broad foundation must be interna- tional in character: Geographic and other external con- ditions are not the important ones in this connection at least not the only ones but, rather, it is the differences in inner content of the "nations" — particularly in the field of art — which are, in the first instance, the deciding factor.
A sufficient example of this is our black mourning and the white mourning of the Chinese. Nevertheless, in matters of detail, which not infrequently acquire unexpected importance, it will often be impossible to remove insuperable obstacles — influences which often, in the beginning of a culture, affect details and lead in some cases to superficial imitations and thereby becloud further development.
On the other hand, purely external phenomena receive little attention colour — "black and white" is quite as customary with us as "heaven and earth.
This example, therefore, perhaps sheds an especially strong light upon the difference between the inner nature of Chinese and Europeans. After thousands of years of Christianity, we Christians experience death as a final silence, or, according to my characterization, as a "bottomless pit," whereas the heathen Chinese look upon silence as a first step to the new language, or, in my way of putting it, as "birth.
It is this very other side, that is, the inner, which is essential. From this last standpoint, the sum of the nations would form not a dissonance but rather, harmony. Presumably, art would also intervene in this seemingly hopeless case — this time in a scientific way — unconscious- ly or involuntarily, with harmonizing effect.
The realization of the idea of organizing an international art institute can become an introduction to this. The simplest forms of angular lines can become complex when Complex other lines join the two original ones.
In this case, the point receives not Angular two but, rather, several pushes which for simplicity's sake are derived from two, not several, alternating forces. The schematic type of these lines of many angles is composed of several segments of equal length which stand at right angles to each other.
Accordingly, the endless series of many-angled lines becomes modified in two directions: Even in these "simple" cases, a one-sided approach can lead only to one-sided conclusions. It would be short-sighted to assume that a people is "accidentally" placed in a definite geo- graphic position which determines its further development.
It would also be quite as insufficient to assert that the political and economic conditions which, in the final analysis, flow out of this people itself, guide and shape its creative power. The goal of a creative power is an inner one — this inner cannot be shelled out of the external alone. Sum of obtuse angles, which have equal segments, have unequal segments, alternate with acute angles and have equal or unequal segments, " alternate with right and acute angles, etc.
Curved Lines These lines are also called zig-zag lines and when they have equal seg- ments, they form an animated straight line. When acute-angled in form, they suggest height and, thus, the vertical; when obtuse-angled, they tend toward the horizontal. The endless potentiality of straight lines for move- ment is always retained in the above-mentioned forms.
If, particularly in the case of the formation of the obtuse angle, a force is regularly augmented and the angle increases in size, this form tends toward the plane and, especially, toward the circle.
The relationship of the obtuse-angle line, the curved line and the circle is, thereby, not only of an external, but of an inner nature, as well. The passivity of the obtuse angle and its unaggressive attitude toward its surroundings, causes it to cave in more and more until it ends in the profoundest self-absorption of the circle.
When two forces act upon the point in such a way that one force continually, but always to the same degree, exceeds the other in pressure, a curved line is created whose basic form is I. It is really a straight line which has been brought out of its course by constant sideward pressure — the greater was this pressure, the farther went the diversion from the straight line and, in the course of this, the greater became the outward tension and, finally, the tendency to close itself.
The inner difference from the straight line consists in the number and kind of tensions: While the piercing quality of the angle disappears, there is still greater force confined here which, even though it is less aggressive, has greater endurance concealed within it.
Something thoughtlessly youthful exists in the angle while in the arc is a mature energy, rightfully self-con- scious. This maturity and the elastic full sound of the curved line lead us to seek the contrast to the straight line — not in the angular — but definitely in the curved line: Contrasts out of this origin, i.
Whereas the straight line is a complete negation of the plane, the curved line carries within it a seed of the plane. If the two forces, with the con- ditions unchanged, roll the point ever farther, the developing curve will sooner or later arrive again at its starting point.
Beginning and end flow into each other and in the same instant disappear without a trace. The most unstable and, at the same time, the most stable of planes is created —the circle Fig.
The spiral is, therefore, a circle going off its track in a uniform manner. Besides this difference, another can be observed which, for painting, is much more significant: Geometry does not make this distinction which is exceed- ingly important for painting; aside from the circle, it designates the ellipse, the figure eight and similar piano forms as lines curves.
The term used here, the "curved line," is not the equivalent of the more exact geometric terminology parabola, hyperbola, etc. The straight line is capable of doing this, although, in contrast to the curved line which can create a plane with two forces, it has need of three impulses in plane creation. In the case of this new plane, beginning and end cannot completely disappear, but are observable at three points. Complete absence of the straight and the angular on the one hand and, on the other hand, three straight lines with three angles — these are the signs of the two primary planes which stand in the greatest contrast to each other.
Therefore, these two planes confront each other as Fig. Three Pairs We have now reached the point where it is logical to establish certain Elements relationships between those three parts of the pictorial elements which actually merge with each other, but which are theoretically separable: Straight line, triangle, yellow, Curved line. Pair 2. Pair 3. Pair 82 Three primary contrasting pairs of elements. This abstract adherence to law peculiar to one of the arts, finds in this art a constant, more or less conscious application, which can be compared with nature's adherence to law and which in both cases — art and nature — affords the inner human being a very particular satisfaction.
Funda- mentally, this same abstract, law-abiding quality is most certainly the property of other art expressions. The spatial elements in sculpture and architecture, 1 the tonal elements in music, the elements of movement in the dance, and the word elements 2 in poetry, all have need of a similar uncovering and a similar elementary comparison with respect to their external and their inner characteristics, which I call "sounds.
Emotional assertion surely is originally rooted in intuitive experiences and compels our taking the first steps along this inviting road.
The emo- tional alone, however, in this case could easily lead off the track; this can only be avoided with the help of exact analytic work. By the use of the right 3 method, it is possible, however, to avoid pitfalls. The progress won through systematic work will create an elementary dic- tionary which, in its further development, will lead to a "grammar" and, finally, to a theory of composition which will pass beyond the boundaries of the individual art expressions and become applicable to "Art" as a whole.
Even the commonly-held concepts are hazy. Strangely enough, a grammar in art today still seems ominously dangerous to many. Planes The more alternating forces there are acting on the point, the more diverse their directions, and the more different the individual segments of an angular line are in length, the more complex will be the planes created.
The variations are inexhaustible Fig. This is mentioned here to aid in the clarification of the differences be- tween the angular line and the curve. The likewise inexhaustible variations in the planes which owe their origin to the curve, never lose a certain — even though distant — relationship with 84 the circle, since they carry circle tensions within them Fig.
A complex curved or wave-like line can consist of: These three types cover all the forms of the curve. Some examples will confirm this rule. Curve — geometric wave-like: Equal radius — uniform alternation of positive and negative pressure.
Hori- zontal course with alternating tensions and release Fig. Wave-like Line Fig. Displacement of the above lines with the same horizontal extension: Displacement increased. Especially temperamental struggle between the two forces. The positive pressure pushes to a very great height Fig. Variations of these last: After the initial ascent toward the left, immediate, definite tension on a large scale upwards and to the right. Relaxing to circular form toward the left.
Four waves are subordinated to one direction, from lower left to upper right 1 Fig. The "reflection" and the "upside-down" are still rather mysterious facts which are of great importance to the theory of composition.
Contrasted to the geometric wave-like line above Fig. The sudden weakening of the wave leads to increased vertical tension. Radius from bottom to top— 4,4,4,2, I Fig. Associated with these two sound factors can further be 3. This linear accentuation is a gradual, or a spontaneous, increase or de- Emphasis crease in strength. A simple example will make detailed explanations superfluous: Line and The spreading out, especially in the case of a short, straight line, bears a relation to the growing point.
Here, too, the question "When does the line as such die out, and at what moment is a plane born? How shall the question "Where does the river stop and the sea begin?
The boundaries are indefinite and mobile, Everything here depends upon proportions, as was the case with the point — the absolute is reduced by the relative to an indistinct, subdued sound. In practice, this "approaching- of-the-boundary" is much more precisely expressed than in pure theory. This means, in cases of an acute dryness of the main elements in a com- position, produces among these elements a certain vibration and causes 90 1 Several full page diagrams in this book are clear examples of this.
See Appendix. At all events, one is here still completely dependent upon feeling. A generally accepted distinction between line and plane is, for the present, impossible— a fact which is perhaps bound up with the still little advanced state of painting, as yet of an embryonic nature, if not possibly determined by the very character of this art. In these cases, both edges of the line are to be considered as independent outer lines, a fact which has more theoretic than practical value.
In the question of the outer shape of the line, we are reminded of the same question in the case of the point. Smooth, jagged, torn, rounded are attributes which in the imagination create certain sensations of touch, due to which the outer borders of a line, from a purely practical point of view, should not be underestimated.
With the line, the combination possibilities in the transference to touch sensations are far more many-sided than with the point: All of these characteristics can be used in the three types of lines — straight, angular and curved — and each of the two sides can have a special treatment. The basic plane, too, works with this medium which, together with the other means of expression, belongs among the rules and laws of the theory of composition.
The third, and last, basic type of line is the result of the combination of the first two kinds. Consequently, it must be called the combined line. The nature of its individual segments determines its par- ticular character: Force Quite apart from differences in character which are determined by the inner tensions, and quite apart from their processes of creation, the orig- inal source of every line remains the same — the force.
Compo- sition The action of the force on the given material brings life into the material, which expresses itself in tensions. The tensions, for their part, permit the inner nature of the element to be expressed.
An element is the objective result of the action of the force on the material. The line is the clearest and simplest case of this creative process which always takes place in exact obedience to law and, therefore, allows and requires an exact law- abiding application.
Thus, a composition is nothing other than an exact law-abiding organization of the vital forces which, in the form of ten- sions, are shut up within the elements.
Number 92 In the final analysis, every force finds expression in number; this is called numerical expression. In art at present, this remains a rather theoretic contention but, nevertheless, it must not be left out of consideration. We today lack the possibilities of measurement which some day, sooner or later, will be found beyond the Utopian. From this moment on, it will be possible to give every composition its numerical expression, even though this may at first perhaps hold true only of its "basic plan" and its larger complexes.
The balance is chiefly a matter of patience which will accom- plish the breaking down of the larger complexes into ever smaller, more subordinate groups. Only after the conquest of numerical expression will an exact theory of composition at the beginning of which we now stand be completely realized. Simpler relationships associated with their numerical expression were employed in architecture perhaps as early as thousands of years ago e. It is very tempting to work with simple numerical proportions which, legitimately, are particularly suited to present day tendencies in art.
Nevertheless, after this step has been passed, added complexity in numerical relationships will appear just as tempting or, perhaps, even more tempting and will be used. In the first, obedience to law plays the greater role; in the second, utility. Law is subordinated here to purpose whereby the Work of art attains the highest quality — genuineness. Until now, individual lines were classified and tested for their character- Complexes istics. The different ways of using several lines and the nature of their Lines reciprocal effect, the subordination of individual lines to a group of lines or to a complex of lines is a question of composition and passes beyond the limits of my present purpose.
In spite of this, a few more characteristic examples are necessary, to the extent that the nature of the individual line can be illuminated by these examples.
Some combinations will be very briefly shown here solely as a suggestion of the way to more complex structures. Repetition of a straight line with alternation of weights. Repetition of an angular line. Opposed repetition of an angular line, plane formation. Repetition of a curved line. Opposed repetition of a curved line, repeated plane formation. Central-ryhthmic repetition of a straight line. Central-rhythmic repetition of a curved line.
Repetition of an accented curved line by means of an accom- panying line. Contrasting repetition of a curved line.
Repetition Fig. In the second kind, an accompaniment of the qualitative enters along with the quantitative reinforcement which, in music, appears about like a 95 repetition of the same measures after a somewhat long interruption or, in the case of repetitions in "piano," the movement is qualitatively modified.
Considerably more complicated combinations are possible in the case of angular lines and, especially, in that of curved lines. The charac- teristics of both acquire a strengthened sound.
Quantitative and qualitative intensifications are present in both instances Figs. In the case of an opposite arrangement of lines, the contrast cannot attain its full sound.
Such really independent complexes can, of course, be subordinated to still greater ones, and these greater ones, in turn, form only a part of the total composition — in about the same way that our solar system forms only a part of the cosmic whole. The universal harmony of a composition can, therefore, consist of a num- ber of complexes rising to the highest point of contrast.
These contrasts can even be of an inharmonious character, and still their proper use will not have a negative effect on the total harmony but, rather, a positive one, and will raise the work of art to a thing of the greatest harmony. Compo- sition 97 Time The element of time, In general, is discernable in the line to a much greater extent than it was in the case of the point: On the other hand, the time required to follow a straight line is different from that required for a curved one, even though the lengths are the same; the more animated the curved line becomes, the longer is the span of time it represents.
Thus, the possibilities of using line as a time element are manifold. The application of time has a different inner colouration in horizontal and vertical lines, even if of equal lengths, and perhaps it is in reality a matter of different lengths which, at any rate, would be psycho- logically explainable. The time element in a purely linear composition must not, therefore, be overlooked and in the theory of composition it must be subjected to an exact examination. Other Arts As with the point, the line can be used in forms of art expression other than painting.
Its nature finds a more or less precise translation in the means of other arts. Music What a musical line is, is well known see Fig. The pitch of the various instruments corre- sponds to the width of the line: Aside from its width, the line is produced in its colour variations by the diversified chromatic character of different instruments. It can be asserted that in music the line supplies the greatest means of expression.
It manifests itself here in time and space just as it does in painting. The degrees of intensity from pianissimo to fortissimo can be expressed in an increasing or decreasing sharpness of the line, that is, in its degree of brilliance.
The pressure of the hand on the bow corresponds exactly to the pressure of the hand on the pencil. It is particularly interesting and significant that the graphic musical repre- sentation in common use today — musical notation — is nothing other than various combinations of point and line. The time is recognizable therein only by means of the colour of the point white and black only, which con- sequently leads to the restriction of the means and the number of pen- nant stripes lines.
The pitch is likewise measured in lines, and five hori- zontals form the basis of this. The unqualified brevity and the sim- plicity of the means of translation, which in clear language convey the most complex sound phenomena to the experienced eye indirectly to the ear are instructive. Both of these characteristics are very alluring for the other forms of art and it is understandable that painting or the dance should be in search of its own "notes.
Similar things are also done with colour. In many important cases, the science of art already makes use of exact graphic transla- tions as material for the synthetic method. There is no question that, in principle, every phenomenon of every world admits of such expression — the expression of its inner nature — regardless of whether it be Raphael, J.
Bach, a storm, 99 The Dance In the dance, the whole body — and in the new dance, every finger — draws lines with very clear expression. The "modern" dancer moves about the stage on exact lines, which he introduces in the composition of his dance as a significant element Sacharoff. The entire body of the dancer, right down to his finger tips, is at every moment an uninterrupted composition of lines Palucca.
The use of lines is, indeed, a new achievement but, of course, is no invention of the "modern" dance: Sculpture One is not at a loss for proof of the role and significance of the line in Architecture sculpture and architecture— the structure in space is, at the same time, a linear construction.
An exceedingly important task of art-scientific research would be an analysis of the fate of lines in architecture, at least in the case of the typical works of various peoples in various epochs, and, what is bound up with this, a purely graphic translation of these works. The philosophic basis of this work would be the determination of the relationships of graphic formulae to the spiritual atmosphere of the given time.
The final topic, for the present, would be the logically necessary restriction to the horizontal-vertical, with the conquest of the air by the projecting upper parts of a building, for which present day building materials and present day building techniques offer extensive and reliable possibilities.
The principle of building just described must, to follow my terminology, be designated as cold-warm or warm-cold, depending upon whether the horizontal or the vertical is emphasized.
This principle has in a short time produced a number of important works, and they continue to be created in the most diverse countries Germany, France, Holland, Russia, America, etc. The only danger would be to remain bound to the external form and to neglect the content.
The rhythmic form of the verse finds its expression in the straight and the curved line, where a regular recurrence is exactly denoted graph- ically — meter.
Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other: Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Point and Line to Plane by Wassily Kandinsky ,. Hilla Rsite Designed by. It was his first perception of the dematerialization of "I had the impression that here painting itself comes to the foreground; I wondered if it would not be possible to go further in this direction.
It was his first perception of the dematerialization of an object and presaged the later development of his influential theories of non-objective art. During study and travel in Europe, the young artist breathed the heady atmosphere of artistic experimentation.
Fauvism, Cubism, Symbolism, and other movements played an important role in the development of his own revolutionary approach to painting. Decrying literal representation, Kandinsky emphasized instead the importance of form, color, rhythm, and the artist's inner need in expressing reality. In Point and Line to Plane , one of the most influential books in 20th-century art, Kandinsky presents a detailed exposition of the inner dynamics of non-objective painting.
Relying on his own unique terminology, he develops the idea of point as the "proto-element" of painting, the role of point in nature, music, and other art, and the combination of point and line that results in a unique visual language.
He then turns to an absorbing discussion of line — the influence of force on line, lyric and dramatic qualities, and the translation of various phenomena into forms of linear expression. With profound artistic insight, Kandinsky points out the organic relationship of the elements of painting, touching on the role of texture, the element of time, and the relationship of all these elements to the basic material plane called upon to receive the content of a work of art.
Originally published in , this essay represents the mature flowering of ideas first expressed in Kandinsky's earlier seminal book, Concerning the Spiritual in Art.
As an influential member of the Bauhaus school and a leading theoretician of abstract expressionism, Kandinsky helped formulate the modern artistic temperament. This book amply demonstrates the importance of his contribution and its profound effect on 20th-century art.
Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published September 1st by Dover Publications first published January More Details Original Title.
Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Point and Line to Plane , please sign up. Be the first to ask a question about Point and Line to Plane. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. Sort order. Consigliato agli appassionati di Avanguardie. Questo saggio mi ha aperto un mondo: Nov 14, Matthew Conroy rated it did not like it. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers.
To view it, click here. Absolutely awful. One of the worst books I've ever read.
Kandinsky's writing is extremely weak, with numerous undefined terms especially "tension", "sound" and "temperature" as they relate to graphic objects , and an abundance of unsupported claims. For example, The most objective of the three typical angles is the right angle, which also is the coldest. It divides the square plane into exactly 4 parts. The acute angle is the tensest as well as the warmest.
It cuts the plane into exactly eight p Absolutely awful. It cuts the plane into exactly eight parts. This second sound, which in the case of the centric structure was almost silenced, again becomes distinct and transforms the sound of the point from the absolute to the relative. I'm a mathematician and an art creator, so perhaps this kind of pseudo-mathematical writing disturbs me more than it would others. It's a great disappointment, since I revere much of Kandinsky's art.
View 2 comments. Jul 07, Nina J. Ho provato a leggere questo libro parecchie volte: Poi, a sfogliare le pagine, si trovano tanti disegni: Una sorta di testo di grafica pubblicato originariamente nel casa editrice diretta da Walter Gropius e Ladislaus Moholy-Nagy, capisci M Ho provato a leggere questo libro parecchie volte: Mi sono sempre fermata a un certo punto: Ormai dal Per adesso lo piazzo in libreria.
May 10, Ledys rated it it was ok Shelves: I am certain I missed the point of this book. It seemed to me a very good attempt to establish solid art theory, but it still felt very subjective, and without any science to back up its claims I am not certain it can qualify. Nov 18, Ed Smiley rated it liked it. Read alongside Abstraction in Art and Nature.
These two books take diametrically opposite, and supplementary approaches. They benefit from being read together. Unlike Abstraction in Art and Nature , this derives formal relationship through a quasi-axiomatic method, using the most elementary visual primitives.
Kandinsky attempts to derive and relate intuitive and emotional responses to these forms. He gen Read alongside Abstraction in Art and Nature.
He generally does not use examples from the "material realm". This may be off putting to artists who never work with, say, triangles or straight lines, or those whose approach is entirely intuitive.
I think its strength lies in the way it looks at correspondences and analogies between colors, diagonals, clusters of points and so on. For example, yellow is a "hotter" and "sharper" color than blue, and a triangle is a "sharper" and "hotter" shape than a circle.
So in a composition, a triangular shape can be augmented by coloring it yellow, and given a softened, and mixed character by coloring it blue. So you can use awareness of these kinds of correspondences to vary the emotional and compositional characteristics of a visual work.
Nov 20, Maja rated it it was ok Shelves: Kandinsky's books are like his paintings - abstract for me. View all 5 comments. Jul 27, Katya rated it really liked it. Completely changed my point of view on abstractionism! Jul 24, Natalie added it.
A difficult read, but a very interesting idea is developed. Kandinsky attempts to codify artistic composition scientifically. Jul 20, Anna rated it really liked it. It was the best introduction to the depth of abstract art. May 24, Russell rated it it was amazing.