Official art academies in
Germany were closed to women in her youth, so Gabriele Münter (1877-1962)
privately, first at the Ladies School of Art in Dusseldorf. With
an inheritance that gave her financial independence, she moved to Munich
in 1901 and was introduced to Post-Impressionism and modernist
techniques at the Phalanx School newly founded by Wassily Kandinsky, who
left his wife to become her lover. For about a dozen years they lived, traveled and painted
together. The couple's 'engagement' ended with his marriage to
another woman after returning to Russia due to the outbreak of World War
Among the first to
exhibit with the 'Blue Rider' group, Münter helped to establish
the German Expressionist style in which forms and perspective
are reduced and thick areas of colors are spread broadly. However, it was not until 1999
that a major retrospective and definitive catalogue were produced by
Expressionist scholar Reinhold Heller, who assembled 82 paintings,
prints and drawings from Münter's
Expressionist years (1903-1920).
eventually abandoned all representational form, painting instead from 'inner
necessity,' Münter continued to favor simplified but recognizable
paintings sometimes resembled stained glass windows she admired in
Dresden, featuring compact areas of color with black outlines and little
hint of perspective.
Best known for powerful
landscapes, striking still life compositions and figure studies, she
often depicted friends and colleagues in her work. The couple in the first picture
below are Alexei Jawlensky and Marianne Werefkin, painters acquainted since their St. Petersburg schooldays.
Another domestic scene
shows Kandinsky in post-prandial conversation with Erma Bossi.
Werefkin, 1908-09, oil on cardboard, Lenbachhaus, Munich.
Gelbes Haus mit Apfelbaum
Erma Bossi, After Dinner, 1912, oil on canvas, Lenbachhaus, Munich.