early pictures by Paul Klee (1879-1940) and Wassily Kandinsky
typically associated with the 'Blue Rider' movement, which led to the
apex of German Expressionism and vastly influenced the course of 20th
Those household names will get
only a passing nod here, however. Our show focuses
on the relatively neglected work of 'Blue Rider' leaders Franz Marc
and Auguste Macke, along with others active in their circle: Heinrich Campendonck, Lyonel
Feininger, Alexei von Jawlensky and, above all, Gabriele Münter, Kandinsky's long-time partner who carefully preserved the 'degenerate' pictures and papers of this talented and daring coterie though the Nazi era and chaos of World War II. On her eightieth birthday in 1957, she donated her priceless collection to the Town Gallery at Lenbachhaus in Munich. This exhibition is dedicated to her, may her memory be for a blessing.
and Macke died young in World War I, Feininger
and Jawlensky survived to become members, with Kandinsky
and Klee, of the 'Blue Four' group formed in 1926. By then
their work shared little or no philosophical cohesiveness, so
the name signified only a long-standing friendship dating from
their pre-war affiliation.
During the 'Blue Rider' period,
which began in 1911 and was interrupted by the war, these trailblazers exhibited together in Munich and published, with funding from
Berlin industrialist Bernard Koehler, an almanac titled Der Blaue
Reiter. Released in mid-May of 1912, this consisted of essays and
pictorials meant to prompt a 'rebirth of looking' - a new way to
perceive the spiritual world.
group's first show, a watershed event in art history, opened
on Dec. 11, 1911. Inspired by Russian, Bavarian and
African Folk Art, Cubism, Futurism and other forms, participants
worked in highly varied styles but customarily expressed
profoundly felt emotional and spiritual states through exuberant
It was Marc who introduced paradisical imagery
featuring animals, most notably heroic horses such as are seen in the
background of this page.