Date of Award

Fall 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Director

Vittorio Colaizzi

Committee Member

Anne H. Muaoka

Committee Member

Robert Wojitowicz


When Nazism descended upon the German art world in the late 1920s and throughout the 1930s, artists were treated as an expendable group of "political undesirables." Among them was Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), who experienced firsthand the political pressure placed on his career, as he attempted to visualize a weltanschauung or "world view," that involved the marriage of different types of art, media, and practices. For Kandinsky the "Great Synthesis of the Arts" revealed the collective historical narrative, to which all artists contributed, and he strove to actualize this lifelong goal over the course of his teaching career at the Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar. His push for synthesis is conveyed in Kandinsky's Black and Violet (1923), Development (1926), Fragile (1931) and Gloomy Situation (1933). Iconographical analysis of these four paintings reveals the hope for synthesis that ultimately experiences a downturn and inevitable defeat due to the rise of Nazism, the termination of Kandinsky's teaching career, and the eventual dissolution of the Bauhaus.