Earl and I visited the Milwaukee Art Museum last summer and saw a spectacular special exhibit on Wassily Kandinsky, the Russian painter who is credited with painting the first true abstract art. We saw his early work and could recognize buildings, fields, and trees. But as the years passed, however, his work changed to the point where all I saw were dots and lines and color. He clearly saw otherwise, and as I read the commentary that accompanied his work I was duly impressed.
So I purchased an historical fiction about him titled Saving Kandinsky in the museum’s gift shop. Written by Mary Basson, it tells Kandinsky’s life story from the point of view of his mistress, Gabriele Munter, an excellent painter in her own right.
Neither Kandinsky nor Munter had an easy time of it, partially because of the times in which they lived. She followed him from place to place, while he promised he was working on a divorce. When it came through, he married someone else; and he and Gabriele went their separate ways. But Munter kept many pieces of her lover’s work, against his objections, and managed to save them when Nazi officials came calling at her home during World War II.
As far as I’m concerned, Kandinsky might be a significant artist; but he was definitely a cad in the personal relationship arena. He reminds me of Frank Lloyd Wright in the historical fiction, Loving Frank, and makes me realize that mistresses of well known men, regardless of era and circumstances, rarely end up in a good place.
I’m posting this today, because tomorrow four friends and I are visiting the Russian Tea Room in Chicago, and I wanted to get in the mood.