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Picture This

Art and music have always been connected: from early cave paintings of musical instruments, to album covers, to interactive concert visuals. What we see and what we hear are closely linked.


December 14th is the 76th anniversary of the death of the abstract artist Wassily Kadinsky. Who is he? How did music inspire artists like Kadinsky? And how does sound art feature in hospitals today? Read on to find out more. 

Music & Modernism


Music is by nature an interpretation, the expression of a perspective, rather than a literal depiction of reality. The Modernist movement was all about avoiding literal representations of the world, therefore music was an attractive source of inspiration. Back in 1877, the writer Walter Pater said: “All art constantly aspires towards the condition of music”. 


Wassily Kadinsky, a Russian painter, was heavily inspired by music. He wrote: “music is the ultimate teacher”. He used musical words to describe his works as “improvisations” or “compositions”, arguing passionately for a multi-sensory experience in the viewer. Have a look at some of his pictures. Do they conjure up sounds in your imagination?

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Vassily Kadinsky - No Title, 1923

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Vassily Kadinsky - Composition VII, 1913

The rising popularity of jazz inspired a new wave of art evoking its rhythms, structures and tones. The artist Stuart Davis was inspired by a jazz sextet and syncopation to create his Hot Still-Scape for Six Colours - 7th Avenue.

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Stuart Davis - Hot Still-Scape for Six Colours - 7th Avenue, 1940

Piet Mondrian was another abstract artist inspired by blues music: specifically boogie woogie music, after which he named several pieces.

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You can listen to the kind of music that inspired Mondrian here.


ACTIVITY: Why not put on some music, pick up a pen, and doodle whatever comes to mind?


Whether or not you produce a ‘masterpiece’, you may be pleasantly surprised by what you see, as well as what you hear.

Piet Mondrian - Broadway Boogie Woogie, 1943

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