Theosophy and art

Origins of Abstract Art.

The origins of abstract art known to come from the time when people started to question spirituality and evolution of the soul. This mostly comes with  the term theosophy.

“Theosophy is a collection of mystical and occultist philosophies concerning, or seeking direct knowledge of the presumed mysteries of life and nature, particularly of the nature of divinity and the origin and purpose of the universe.”

There are some of my notes from documentary based on theosophy of the 17th century and influences in art.

Spirituality in abstract art began around 1890 and ran in parallel with a growing interest in mysticism and the occult. Many artists were becoming intrigued with spiritual writings. Many of them been inspired from the work by Madame Blavatsky “The Secret Doctrine”.

But it was Theosophy that had the most profound effect on the emergence of modern abstract art and specifically on the founding fathers of the movement, Wassily Kandinsky, Frantisek Kupka, Piet Mondrian, and Kazimer Malevich.

Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)

“Kandinsky was Theosophical in his view of history as a cyclical process, in which everything is evolving toward greater consciousness. During that process, he wrote, some human beings have developed “a deep and powerful prophetic strength” and “a secret power of vision” (that is, clairvoyance); they have become advanced souls or Masters, who point the way to others.”


Kandinsky, Wassily. Concerning the Spiritual in Art. Trans. M. T. H. Sadler. New York: Dover, 1977. Reprint of the first English translation, 1914.

Motherwell, Robert, ed. Concerning the Spiritual in Art. New York: Wittenborn, Schultz, 1947. Revision of the first English translation with changes supplied by Wassily’s wife, Nina Kandinsky.

Ringbom, Sixten. “Art in ‘The Epoch of the Great Spiritual’: Occult Elements in the Early Theory of Abstract Painting.” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 29 (1966): 386–418.

Piet Mondrian

“I am always driven to the spiritual,” Mondrian stated. “Through Theosophy I became aware that art could provide a transition to the finer regions, which I will call the spiritual realm.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *