Wassily Kandinsky was the first person to be credited with creating modern abstract works. He originally was not even an artist and did not pursue that profession until his later years.
Kandinsky enrolled in the University of Moscow and studied law and economics. It wasn't until 1896, at 30 years old, that he quit his very promising profession to enroll in a Munich art school. He wasn't admitted right away so he began to teach himself art. He was influenced greatly by Monet's 'Haystacks' and Richard Wagner's 'Lohengrin'.
Kandinsky called his art 'inner beauty, fervor of spirit, and deep spiritual desire, inner necessity'. None of his paintings emphasized human beings, they were more abstract figures.
Kandinsky also was an art theorist, helping to found the Neue Kunstlervereinigung Munchen or the New Artists Association and in 1909 he became the president. After their demise in 1911, he is credited with forming the Blue Rider Group. Kandinsky taught at the Bauhaus in Germany but once that closed he moved to France where he died in 1944.