Where and how are artists inspired?
I have always admired and been influenced by Wassily Kandinsky, from my childhood art classes, his retrospective at the Guggenheim in 1983 to the recent retrospective held at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City (in conjunction with their 50th anniversary).  

Autumn in Bavaria, 1908 

“The work of art is born of the artist in a mysterious and secret way. From him it gains life and being.  Nor is its existence casual and inconsequence, but it has a definite and purposeful strength, alike in it’s material and spiritual life.  It exists and has power to create spiritual atmosphere; and from this inner standpoint one judges…” 
Wassily Kandinsky, “Concerning the Spiritual in Art” 1914

Kandinsky was overwhelmingly influenced by music, he painted music, he broke down the barrier between music and painting, he let his emotions carry him onto the canvas. His "inner necessity" (Kandinsky’s words) to express his emotional perceptions led to the development of an abstract style of painting that was based on the non-representational properties of color and form. Kandinsky's paintings were the culmination of his efforts to create a "pure painting" that would provide the same emotional power as a musical composition.

 Composition IV, 1911

In her recently curated exhibition at the Guggenheim, Tracy Bashkoff stresses the relationship between Kandinsky and composers Arnold Schoenberg, Richard Wagner.  Hence, many of his paintings were labeled as compositions or improvisations.

 Improvisation 31, 1913

More on this relationship in forthcoming posts.