May 25


The "Blue Rider" - the blue land

By Frank

May 25, 2020

Nature, art and culture form a special connection in the Blue Land . The view over the lakes, the moors and the mountains up to the Zugspitze characterizes this region between Munich and Garmisch -Partenkirchen.

The unobstructed view of the mountain scenery and the picturesque color and light moods clear your head - then as now...

It was Franc Marc , a Munich

who bestowed the honorary title “The Blue Land” on his adopted country.

Aha! Cool ...

Franz Marc and Wassily Kandinsky invented the name ' Der Blaue Reiter ' at the coffee table in the gazebo in Sindelsdorf; both loved blue, Mark the horses, Wassily the riders . So the name came by itself. (Quote: Wassily Kandinsky)

The figure of the rider comes from the knight Saint George . This is the saint who frees the virgin - symbolizing this battle of evil against good. In the Blue Rider, the battle of the new art against the old, outdated art ...

The "Blue Rider" - the blue land

Kandinsky, Horse, 1911

But how did it all begin? "Der Blaue Reiter" has its origins in the artists' association, the Neue Künstlervereinigung München (NKVM). Soon, however, there was a break between the relatives - the point of contention was always the art of Kandinsky and Franz Marc , who followed a similar style.

Critics accuse the artists of being sloppy and see the expressionist works as sloppy and carelessly painted . In fact, the strong abstraction is an essential part of the art movement. Painters like Marc and Kandinsky were convinced that human beings have an inner and outer reality of experience , in which the feelings and impressions actually experienced differ.

The Blue Rider finally dissolved in 1914, just 3 years after it was founded . It was World War I that forced the artists to either fight or flee . On the occasion of her 80th birthday in 1957, Gabriele Münters, who belonged to the artists' association "Blauer Reiter", donated more than 1000 works to the city of Munich.


King Ludwig II passing through as a guest ...

Probably the most famous guest passing through to his nearby Linderhof Palace was King Ludwig II . He occasionally spent the night in the former post office in Murnau . The advantages of the landscape, the small-town flair of this little town attracted world-famous artists. Here the painters, especially those of the "Blauer Reiter ", found their motifs and the decisive artistic development towards Expressionism .

Who were the outstanding artists from the "Blauer Reiter"?

Wassily Kandinsky

The Russian painter, graphic artist and art theorist was born in Moscow on December 4th, 1866 and grew up in economically secure circumstances. From 1886 he studied law and economics at Moscow University and successfully completed his doctorate in 1893, but then changed his career goal and became a painter . In 1896 he moved to Munich .

He is increasingly dissatisfied with the painting styles that he gets to know in Munich. They seem expressionless and boring to him. In 1901 Wassily Kandinsky co-founded the artists' association "Phalanx" , at whose school he taught. One of his students is Gabriele Günther , with whom he soon has a love affair.

The "Blue Rider" - the blue land

Wassily Kandinsky

In 1911, Kandinsky published his theoretical study on the "Spiritual in Art" in Germany. In this diverse work, fundamental to abstract painting , he describes the psychological effects of color and the similarities between painting and music .

The outbreak of World War I meant harsh censorship for Kandinsky. He left Germany and returned to his homeland . There he met Nina von Andreewsky and married her. In 1944 he died in Neuilly-sur-Seine near Paris.

Gabriele Munter

The "Blue Rider" - the blue land

Gabriele Munter

Gabriele Münter was born in Berlin on February 19, 1877 . Her German-American parents are wealthy and encouraged her artistic talent at an early age. From 1897 she took drawing lessons in Düsseldorf and after the death of both parents and a two-year stay in America , she finally moved to Munich

There she attended courses at the private art school "Phalanx" run by the Russian artist Kandinsky . A close personal relationship with Kandinsky soon developed. Joint study trips led Münter and Kandinsky between 1903 and 1908 through Europe and as far as North Africa.

It was not until 1908 that they returned permanently to Munich and at the same time discovered Murnau as their favorite place to paint . Here Gabriele Münter acquired a house from her inheritance in 1909. The “ Russian House ” became a meeting place for the artistic avant-garde .

For Münter and Kandinsky, 1908, the year of abstraction and empathy, was the “annus mirabilis” of their Murnau breakthrough. Münter summarized the meaning of this year as follows: “I have da after a short agony made a big leap : from painting nature - more or less impressionistic - to feeling a content, to abstracting, to giving the extract. "

Four fifths of the 250 portraits that Gabriele Münter painted in the course of her life are portraits of women. Painting portraits is the boldest and most difficult, the most spiritual, the ultimate task for the artist , the painter has stated. In 1937 Gabriele Münter's art was described as degenerate and she was banned from exhibitions.

Around 1917 the relationship with Kandinsky broke up.

Franz Marc

Born on February 8, 1880 into a family of artists in Munich , Franz Moritz Wilhelm Marc studied between 1900 and 1903 at the Munich Art Academy. After he had traveled to Paris and Brittany in the years that followed, he met Macke and Kandinsky in 1909 and 1910, who influenced his painting style enormously.

Marc began to paint in an expressive, colour-intensive style , increasingly abandoning the figurative. From 1911 Franz Marc was a member of the artists' group "The Blue Rider" and took part in their exhibitions.

The "Blue Rider" - the blue land

Franz Marc

From 1914 Marc lived a secluded life in Ried in Upper Bavaria and eventually volunteered for military service . The loss for German and international art is unbelievably high when he fell in Verdun, France, in 1916 at the age of 36.

In November 2007, 18 million dollars was paid for Franz Marc's "Der Wasserfall (Women under a Waterfall)" from 1912 at the New York auction house Sotheby's - a record sum for the German expressionist. Thus, the fame and popularity of Franz Marc (1880-1916) is beyond question.

With his animal depictions of dogs, cats, deer, cows, but especially horses , he wrote art history: he is one of the most important artists of the 20th century and one of the founders of German Expressionism . But while other artists painted into old age, the period in which Marc created his most famous paintings was limited to only 4 years (1910 - 1914) . It took him 10 years (1900 - 1910) to find his own language of form, color and expression .

Marc's stylized animal world does not seek the outside, but the inside to draw his essence. His goal was to paint the animals how they feel, not how humans see them.

What is there to see?

Lenbachhaus in Munich

The Lenbachhaus in Munich has the world's largest collection of art by the 'Blauer Reiter' , one of the most important groups of avant-garde artists in Germany and Europe at the beginning of the 20th century. The museum owes this circumstance primarily to the generous donation by Gabriele Münter , the painter and life partner of Wassily Kandinsky until 1914.

On the occasion of her 80th birthday in 1957 , she presented the Lenbachhaus with over 1000 works by the 'Blauer Reiter' . These included more than 90 oil paintings by Kandinsky , around 330 watercolors and drawings , the prints, sketchbooks and paintings on glass by his hand, as well as more than 25 of Münter's own paintings and numerous works on paper as well as works by other important artists such as Franz Marc, August Macke, Paul Klee, Alexej von Jawlensky and Marianne von Werefkin.

With the magnificent donation of Gabriele Münter in 1957, the collection of the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus became a world-class museum .

Schlossmuseum Murnau

The heart of the museum is the most extensive publicly shown collection of works by Gabriele Münter as well as works by the artists of the "NKVM" and the "Blauer Reiter" (including Wassily Kandinsky, Marianne Werefkin, Alexej Jawlensky, Franz Marc, Heinrich Campendonk).

The exhibits make it clear that they have found many of their motifs in Murnau and the surrounding area since 1908, that they got to know Bavarian folk art - especially reverse glass painting - and that they took the decisive artistic step towards a new expressive painting here.

Kandinsky followed his consistent path to non-representational art and spent important work phases here with Marc, Münter and Macke preparing the almanac "Der Blaue Reiter".

The Murnau Castle Museum was awarded the Bavarian Museum Prize in 1995 .

Schlossmuseum Murnau

Schloßhof 2-5, 

82418 Murnau am Staffelsee

Gabriele Münter House (the Russian House)


Gabriele Münter House, called the "Russian House"

The Münter House in Murnau never ceases to enchant visitors who find it hard to believe that this rural location was of such eminent importance for modern art . There it stands, painted white and sky-blue under its large hipped roof in the colorful garden that Wassily Kandinsky once dug up in lederhosen .

His top hat hangs inside next to the bed, next door Gabriele Münter's palette still bears the traces of paint from its last use. The couple spent summers in the house Münter bought in 1909; they lived there with self-painted furniture and a lot of folk art , which they collected in the area and which, like the beautiful foothills of the Alps, became a major source of inspiration for the expressionism of the Blue Rider, which was born here in Upper Bavaria, and Kandinsky's further path to abstract art .

They had discovered the sleepy little town with Alexej von Jawlensky and Marianne von Werefkin , now other friends and comrades-in-arms also came to visit, and one can picture it in front of oneself, like August and Elisabeth Macke, Franz and Maria Marc did in 1911 at the editorial meetings for the programme, discussing the Blue Rider Almanac at the table in the dining area.

Gabriele Münter House

Kottmüllerallee 6,

82418 Murnau am Staffelsee

Franc Marc Museum

The Franz Marc Museum was founded in 1986 to honor the life and work of its important namesake. Franz Marc spent important periods of his artistic work up until his death as a soldier in World War I in the Upper Bavarian countryside around Kochel am See.

Stepping into the main building of the museum, one might think that Marc himself lived in it. It is an intimate character that gives the Franz Marc Museum a very special charm. Around 160 exhibits are on display there : oil paintings – including a lemon horse and a fire ox –, woodcuts and the artist's personal belongings.

The private character of the museum, the harmonious interplay of architecture , collection and presentation, the embedding of the house in a spectacular natural setting and the opportunity to combine a visit to the museum with activities in the area and a delicious meal make the museum a special experience.

Franz Marc Museum
Franz Marc Park 8-10
82431 Kochel a. See

About the author

It is more valuable to experience a place in detail than many small impressions of an incomprehensible whole.

Genius Loci - discovering, capturing and experiencing the spirit of a place. Perceive - understand - enjoy!

As a graduate industrial engineer with an additional MBA degree from a renowned university in England (EMBA, EQUIS and AACSB accredited), I have been showing other, often surprising, paths to success for more than 30 years at C-Level (Head of Marketing and Sales worldwide).

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