'Der Goldfisch' by Paul KleeMystical early pictures by Paul Klee (1879-1940) and Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) are typically associated with the 'Blue Rider' movement, which led to the apex of German Expressionism and vastly influenced the course of 20th century art. 

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.

While Marc 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. 

The 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 color. 

It was Marc who introduced paradisical imagery  featuring animals, most notably heroic horses such as are seen in the background of this page.

 'Flood Improvisation' by Wassily Kandinsky'

(German, 1880-1916)

 'The Tower of Blue Horses'  (Missing) by Franz Marc ' Tirol (Tyrol), 1914' by Franz Marc

 'Bild mit Rindern' by Franz Marc

 'Deer in a Monastery Garden' by Franz Marc

(German, 1887-1914)

 'Russian Ballet I' by August Macke  'Red House in a Park' by August Macke

 'Zoological Garden I' by August Macke

 'Leave-Taking' by Auguste Mack - painted not long before his death during World War I

(German, 1889-1957)

 'Self-Portrait with Flower' by Heinrich Campendonck, 1918  'Carnival (Sitting harlequin and animals)', 1922, woodcut OR (they look just alike online) 'Seated Woman with Animals,' 1916, woodcut by Heinrich Campendonck

 'Horse with Colts' by Heinrich Campendonck

(American, 1871-1956; active in Germany 1887-1937)

 'The Green Bridge II' by Lyonel Feininger, 1916     'Yellow Street II' by Lyonel Feininger, 1918

 'The Bicycle Race' by Lyonel Feininger, 1912

(Russian-born German, 1864-1941)

 'Meditation' by Alexei Jawlensky
 'Licht und Schatten' by Alexei Jawlensky

 'Gebirgsdorf 1910' by Alexei Jawlensky

(German, 1877-1962)

' Jawlensky and Werefkin' by Gabriele Münter

 'Gelbes Haus mit Apfelbaum' by Gabriele Münter 

Kandinsky and Erma Bossi, After Dinner' by Gabriele Münter, 1912


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