Luigi Verdi, Kandinsky e Skrjabin. Realtà e utopia nella Russia pre-rivoluzionaria, Akademos & Lim, Lucca, 1996.

Review by Maria Girardi in Giornale della Musica, 120, ottobre 1996.

If the relation between Kandinskij and Schönberg has been subject to research work, the correlation between Kandinskij and Skrjabin, effectively made by Luigi Verdi in the volume reviewed, where the Russian cultural life of the early years of 20th century seen through the works of these two protagonists is examined in its manifold artistic experiences, is completely new. The transition between 19th and 20th centuries was for Russia a moment of extraordinary flourishing of the most various creative forms, it was a time of triumph for aestheticism, for the cult of beauty, of a deep crisis of musical language, it was a period which was not casually defined as “silver age”. Among the most outstanding exponents, Aleksandr Skrjabin and Vasilij Kandinskij, who never entered into a personal relation, both show a deep intellectual affinity, a strongly seductive empathic connection and an astonishing sintony, characteristics which, even in their subtle differences of language, emerge clearly in their writings, in their ideas and in some realizations of both. Skrjabin’s is a spiritual experience which develops along two coordinates: the musical one and the mystic-speculating one, linked to a personal conception of art and of the artist’s role which ends in an original cosmogonical vision in the great unfinished poem Acte Préalable, which ought to have  preceded the ambitious Misterium, a sort of univeral action of the whole humanity, of synaesthesical theurgic act, of masterly idea of ars combinatoria, of great global poem projected as a fusion of musical, poetic, choreographic and sensorial means for a mobile architecture (a hemispheric temple which would rise above a a stretch of water,  reflect itself and appear as a perfect sphere).

Kandinskij’s story, then, is the story of a painter – thinker who astonished the whole world with the discovery of abstract art, with the foundation of Der Blaue Reiter in Monaco and with the publication of The Spiritual in Art, where he maintained the supremacy of the spirit over the matter, by insisting on a fundamental concept: “Art does not reproduce what is visible but it makes visible what is not always visible”. His culture – as however Skrjabin’s one – from the beginning had started to turn to the German world, to theosophy, to esoterism, to anthroposophy. Yet his pan-Slavic  soul gradually, and inevitably, was abandoning the figurative elaborations freeing itself in the early abstract “improvisations”, according to a musical , and consequently spiritual, meaning, an authentic stave of emotions. If the discovery of atonal language was important to Skrjabin, not less significant were the relevations of Skrjabin’s music, in particular of Prometheus, well analyzed in the almanac Der Blaue Reiter by Leonid Sabaneev. And it is the relation between music and painting which is the fil rouge of the book, all around which the synaesthetic phenomena, the mutual sound-colour perceptions and the theorizations for a Whole work of art  unravel. The musical dissonance, therefore, turns to painting, where colour takes on a thought-out freedom; the latter is only ruled by a mysterious symbolic quotient, in such a way that Kandinskij, in order to justify his evolution towards an abstract art, resorted to the thesis of the analogy between music, the most immaterial among arts, and the new painting, not made of emotions in themselves, but of their reflecting themselves from reality to soul, and viceversa.

Maria Girardi



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