Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Last week I went to an amazing exhibition at the Kunstmuesum in Basel, Switzerland, that tracks Kandinsky’s evolution from more concrete paintings in his early age to his famous abstract painting style ( . It’s an extraordinary visual education of how an artist attempts to reduce his visual work to the bare essentials of what he considers the true nature of objects.

In one of his outstanding written explanations of his art he writes (“Line and Fish”, 1935, published in Londoner magazine Axis):” The environment (in which a visual object is presented) is the composition. The composition is the organized sum of the internal expressions of all parts of a painting.” Kandinsky explains further that the composition of which objects within a painting are arranged, are positioned against or with each other, enables that one sees the hidden truth and forces of any object. The combination of the right composition and the reduction to the absolute essential unveils the essence of the objects.

Why was I so impressed with Kandinsky’s paintings and his evolution to one of the early masters of abstract paintings? Here are my thoughts:
  • We often underestimate the importance of composition within our work of presenting data insights. In some of my previous blog postings I wrote about how close our work can be to art objects. Therefore we have to think more intense and smart about how we are arranging the different elements of our work results. We should think of them as very client customized and unique compositions, similar to Kandinsky’s compositions of different objects in the right environment.
  • Kandinsky’s drive to create abstract art is grounded in the attempt to reduce objects to its truest nature. His paintings try to eliminate anything that is not relevant, anything that distracts from a truthful representation, anything that hinders the viewer’s access to the object. The best data analyst does exactly the same. Our work is less and less about adding something, and more and more about reducing to the minimum.
  • My often proclaimed need to develop real data visualization expertise could be linked to the birth of abstract art. The abstract artists were always attempting to find new truths in pushing visual representations to an extremely new form but always with the intent of unveiling something that no one saw before. Isn’t this what we are trying to do every day?

Maybe we marketing geeks should spend more time in understanding the techniques of painters to further the impact of our discipline. And we should definitely spend more in museums and study the genius of creative artists.


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