Wassily Kandinsky , first name sometimes spelled as "Vasily," "Vassily" or "Vasilii") (December 4, 1866 December 13, 1944) was a Russian-born painter and art theorist. One of the most important 20th-century artists, alongside Picasso and Matisse, he is credited with painting the first abstract works in the history of modern art. 
Kandinsky was born in Moscow but spent his childhood in Odessa. He enrolled at the University of Moscow and chose law and economics. Although quite successful in his profession, he started painting studies (life-drawing, sketching and anatomy) at the age of 30. He settled in Munich but went back to Moscow in 1918 after the Russian Revolution. Being in conflict with official theories on art, he returned to Germany in 1921. There he was a teacher at the Bauhaus from 1922 until it was closed by the Nazis in 1933. At that time he moved to France. He lived the rest of his life there, becoming a French citizen in 1939. He died at Neuilly-sur-Seine in 1944. 
Along with Piet Mondriaan and Kazimir Malevich, Kandinsky is considered a pioneer in abstract art, undoubtedly the most famous. He was a synaesthete who could, quite literally, hear colors. This effect of color was a major influence on his art, and he even named some of his paintings "improvisations" and "compositions" as if they were works of music and not painting. Works by Kandinsky have been recently sold for as much as US$25 million. Probably the largest collection of his paintings may be seen in the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.