Historical Guests

Portofino, a World apart
23
February 2009

Wassily Kandinsky was a guest in Portofino.

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The great Russian painter, one of the forerunners of abstractionism, was a guest in Portofino at Christmas of 1905. We don’t intend to write a biography much less a description of his art, that is the job of the critics. Instead we want to let it he known that he was a grand lover of Italy where his parents had brought him when he was but three years old. He then lived in the Ukraine with his aunt Elizabeth because his parents divorced. There, he studied the piano and cello and learned German. At twenty years old he enrolled in the University of Moscow and specialized in Political Economy. In 1889 the Society of Natural Sciences, Ethnography, and Anthropology sent him on a mission in Vologda where he became interested in the local decorative arts.

In the same year he attended the World’s Fair in Paris. In 1893 he obtained the post of Course Assistant in the faculty of Roman Rights in Moscow but in 1895 he discovered the “Mills” of Monet, turned down a teaching job and left for Munich, the city of artists to dedicate himself to painting. There, in the studio of Anton Azbé, he met his compatriots: the painter Marianna Veriovnica of Petersburg who would later move to Ascona on Lago Maggiore, Alessio Jawlensky, and the Swiss painter Paul Klee with whom he would found “Il Cavaliere Bleu” and lyrical abstractionism.

In 1901 he was one of the founders of the group “Phalanx”. He organized twelve exhibits, met Gabriele Muenter, who became his companion, and opened a school wood engraving. When he came to Santa Margherita Ligure with Muenter he was almost forty years old. He already had a name as a painter, but before him lay a fantastic career whose stages were followed by the devotees of his art. We like to imagine him in Santa Margherita Ligure in the piazza of the church of the Cappucini with his colors and fine paintbrushes, while with the wide and dense brushes he expresses his sentiments in front of the spectacular natural scenery, considered as a theme to be developed rather than imitated. Or, when he was on the wharf of the port of Santa Margherita Ligure admiring the Villa Durazzo which would then become the object of his painting for the next day.

Kandinsky loved the Portofino very much and with his companion he travelled by carriage the beautiful road that leads to Portoflno, stayed at Cervara and climbed up to the church of San Giorgio. He remained on Portofino from christmas of 1905 to April 1906.

Wassily Kandinsky
1866 – 1944

Portofino, a World apart.

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