Wassily Kandinsky: What Does Colour Sound?

Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the harmonies, the soul is the piano with many strings.
Wassily Kandisky

What if you could hear color? What if you could hear a painting? A new project by Google Arts & Culture in collaboration with Centre Pompidou in Paris lets you explore the oustanding mind of Wassily Kandinsky (Moscow, 1886 – Neuilly-sur-Seine, 1944) and hear the colors just as he would hear them.

Wassily Kandinsky, the famous painter and Bauhaus master, could hear the colors. It’s called synaesthesia: a perceptual phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. That is to say: when Kandinsky was seeing the yellow color, he also was hearing high trumpet notes. When he was seeing shades of blue, he was hearing flutes (light blue), cello (dark blue), double bass (deeper blue) and a deep organ (deep, solemn blue). Extraordinary isn’t it?

This condition, of course, was the basis for all his works, which are painted based on notes and music scales.

However, al least we have synesthesia, we are not able to hear his paintings. That is why Google Arts & Culture created Sounds Like Kandinsky a new interactive platform that lets you go beyond imaginations: you can hear what Kandinsky might have heard as he looked at color.

The proyect was created with experimental musicians Antoine Bertin and NSDOS to study Kandinsky’s writings detailing his multisensory perception.