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Blaue Reiter, a basic description.

Updated: Apr 13, 2023

Formed in Munich in 1911, the Blue Rider ( Blaue Reiter in German) is a group of the expressionist avant-garde. Vassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc are the leading figures. The writer of a famous almanac, this small cell had the trajectory of a comet: barely two exhibitions before dying out in the fires of the Great War! However, the Blaue Reiter was great for its contribution to the history of modern art. Renewing art and spirituality, it marked an essential step towards abstract art.

"Our goal is to show in the variety of forms represented how the inner desire of artists is realized in multiple ways. »Vassily Kandinsky

History of movement

By choosing the emblem of riders and horses, the members of the Blaue Reiter translate their quest for freedom. The blue color, meanwhile, evokes both detachments from reality and spirituality. Initially, two of them led the founding of this group: Vassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc, opposed to bourgeois art and steeped in mysticism. They meet and associate in 1911 in Munich, a city with a liberal climate. An adventure prepared in 1909 by the foundation of The New Association of Munich Artists ( Neue Künstlervereinigung München, commonly abbreviated as NKVM), of which Kandinsky was the president.

The movement has neither program nor members! To understand the design of the Blaue Reiter, we must rely on Kandinsky's theoretical writings, notably Du Spirituel dans l'art, and in painting, in particular, published in 1911. The artist advocates an art based on interiority, the expression of pure shapes and colors. For him, painting is "Cosa mental," it is a thing of the mind and not of matter. In this, it is close to music. Kandinsky is the real driving personality of the Blaue Reiter, and the name of the group also takes the title of one of his paintings from 1903.

Some artists follow Kandinsky and Marc: Gabriele Münter, Marianne von Werefkin, Alexej von Jawlensky, and August Macke. In 1911, the first exhibition was organized, followed in 1912 by the production of an almanac. It is a publication open to all companies of modern art and abundantly illustrated. Kandinsky explains: "We, Marc and I, were thrown on painting, but painting alone was not enough for us. Then I had the idea of ​​a synthetic book which would erase short and outdated views, would break down the walls between the arts ... and finally demonstrate that the question of art is not a question of form, but of content artistic. "

In 1912, the group exhibited in Paris and interested certain artists, like Robert Delaunay. The history of the Blaue Reiter ended with the outbreak of the Great War in August 1914. Kandinsky fled to Russia, Marc and Macke died on the battlefield. The spirit of the Blaue Reiter will, however, continue to exist through the Bauhaus, where Kandinsky taught from 1922.


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Franz Marc © Wikipedia

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