Art in Munich: The “Blue Rider” brings together famous and undesirable artists


The mainstay of the city of Munich is art. The “Blue Rider” was a group of artists founded around the turn of the century.

The members of this group are among the most influential representatives of the avant-garde, political and artistic movement of the twentieth century. His artwork broke with many different conventions.

The “Blue Rider” and its roots

The “Blue Rider” originated in Munich in 1911 as one of the two pioneering movements of German Expressionism. It represented an abstract counterpart to the distorted figurative style of the Dresden group “Die Brücke”, which had been founded in 1905. The members of these two groups have faced feelings of alienation in the modern world.

Russian immigrants such as Wassily Kandinsky, Marianne von Werefkin, Alexej von Jawlensky and German artists such as Franz Marc, Gabriele Münter and August Macke founded the “Blauer Reiter” in the early 20th century.

The “Blue Rider” set himself the task of overcoming the banality of everyday life and sought its spiritual content in art. Franz Marc, Wassily Kandinsky and Gabriele Münter were the key figures in the group. Other members came from Germany and Russia.

Multicultural and open to new things

As an international group, they organized several traveling exhibitions in a short time, which made them a driving force for the promotion of avant-garde painting.

In 1909 Kandinsky became president of the New Munich Artists’ Association. Due to problems with Charles Johann Palme, he left the association to start the “blue rider” with others. The members of the Blue Rider agreed not to agree with the rules of the New Munich Artists’ Association. The Blue Rider considered the principles of the New Munich Artists’ Association to be too traditional and strict.

The idea for the name “Blue Rider” came up during one of his stays in the Oberland. Kandinsky wrote that he founded the “Blauer Reiter” while he and Franz Marc spent time at the Sindelsdorf Garden Viewpoint. They both loved blue, Marc loved horses, Kandinsky loved riders.

Another idea of ​​how the association got its name is based on its belief that the rider symbolized the ability to go beyond the color blue, the highest spiritual color. Theosophical approaches were also important to some members of this group.

Art in Munich and the ideals of Blue rider

Modern abstract art attempted to visually manifest the spiritual ideals that have been pursued through theosophical and other teachings. The artists of this movement, including the members of the “Blue Rider”, tried to paint what the words could not express. Theosophy had an immense influence on the rise of modern abstract art.

Theosophy gave these artists a perspective. It became the crucial foundation of his spirituality. They believed that they could see the natural world and beyond and understand the cosmic principles and ancient wisdom. This vision gave them the feeling of the divine gaze to the afterlife.

The main goal of his art was to share this knowledge with others. They were between two worlds and considered themselves messengers. However, the artistic goals and approaches in the “blue rider” were varied among artists.

However, they all shared the same desire: to express spiritual truths in their works, which became their common goal. They promoted modern art by understanding the symbolic and spiritual associations of color in the union of music and the visual arts. They used an intuitive and spontaneous approach to painting.

Blue Rider artists loved European primitivism and medieval art, as well as the non-figurative contemporary French art scene. They were very familiar with Fauvist, Cubist and Rayonist ideas. Each of these approaches influenced his adoption of abstraction. The basic idea behind the structuring of his images was that form and color should carry specific spiritual values.

Within a painting, they separated color and shape into discrete elements, or used unnatural colors. They researched and valued music and called their paintings improvisations, compositions or studies. They explored the union or intersection of the senses in the perception of sounds, colors, and other stimuli.

Exhibitions of the “blue riders”

During the years 1911 and 1914 the “Blaue Reiter” organized exhibitions throughout Germany.

During the period 1911 and 1914, Der Blaue Reiter organized exhibitions throughout Germany. They also published primitive folk art, an almanac of contemporary images, as well as images of children. In 1913 they held an exhibition at the first German Autumn Salon.

First exhibition

Heinrich Thannhauser’s “Modern Gallery” in Munich hosted the first exhibition of the Blue Riders on December 18, 1911. The German title of the exhibition was “First Exhibition of the Der Blaue Reiter Publishing Team.” It showed 43 works by 14 artists.

Among the artists were Franz Marc, August Macke, Elisabeth Epstein, Henri Rousseau, Wladimir Burliuk, Robert Delaunay, Albert Bloch, Gabriele Münter, David Burliuk, Wassily Kandinsky, Jean Bloé Niestlé, Eugen von Kahler, Arnold Schönberg and Heinrich Campendonk.

The exhibition took place from January 1912 to July 1914 and moved to many cities in Europe. Cities include Berlin, Oslo, Budapest, Gothenburg and Helsinki.

Second exhibition

The “Second Exhibition of the Blauer Reiter Editorial Team” featured works in black and white. In Munich, the “Neue Kunst” gallery by Hans Goltz (Neue Kunst Hans Goltz) exhibited these works. These exhibitions took place from February 12 to April 2, 1912.

Andere Shows

Members of the Blue Rider participated in the Sonderbund of West Germany Art Friends and Artists (Cologne, 1912). In 1913 Herwarth Walden organized the “First German Autumn Salon” at his “Der Strum” gallery in Berlin.


The Blue Rider never had an official manifesto, but Kandinsky’s treatise “On the Spiritual in Art” gave some principles. This treatise defined the artist’s desire to create abstract and unrepresentative paintings. He was very popular in many artistic circles in Europe.

In 1912 the group “Der Blaue Reiter” published “Almanach” in more than a thousand copies. The Blue Rider’s Almanac contained 14 major articles and more than 140 reproductions of works of art.

The effects

The outbreak of World War I destroyed the group. August Macke and Franz Marc, the key figures in the group, died in combat during the war. Alexei von Jawlensky, Marianne von Werefkin and Wassily Kandinsky returned to Russia.

Due to divergent views within the Blauer Reiter, the group disintegrated in 1914. Although short-lived, the group left an immense influence on the art scene of the time.

Today The Blue Rider

Munich has always attracted artists from many parts of the world. At the beginning of the twentieth century it was consolidated as a Mecca of art. The rural environment was a great inspiration and many painters developed unique forms of expression.

As a group, these artists traveled together and visited many places. They enjoyed the scenery around the alpine foothills of Bavaria and Murnau. Münter and Kandinsky owned a villa in Murnau, where Münter lived until his death in 1962.

Visitors can still walk around the village today.

Gabriele Münter managed to save many works from this period, while the Nazis destroyed the rest. More than 1000 works stored by her are in the “Städtische Galerie”, an Lenbachhaus art gallery. This also includes works by Macke, Marc and Kandinsky.

The “Franz Marc” Museum, the “Murnau” Castle Museum and the “Penzberg” Museum are also home to works rescued by Blue Rider artists.

If you are interested in seeing these paintings and seeing the village of Münter and Kandinsky, you can book a guided tour. I look forward to accompanying you and helping you learn more about the artists themselves and their works.

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