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Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider)

The Blue Rider was a German Expressionist movement that was established in December 1911 by Kandinsky, Franz Marc and Gabriele Münter.
Painters Kandinsky and Marc worked on an almanac in which they showed their artistic conceptions. The title of the almanac, which then became the name of the group, Der Blaue Reiter - The Blue Rider, came from the painting by Kandinsky.
His Blaue Reiter Blue Rider was an adventure in the simplification and stylization of forms and the connection between music and painting.

The Blue Riders believed that colors, shapes and forms had equivalence with sounds and music, and sought to create color harmonies which would be purifying to the soul. Although in this very earliest works, the impressionistic influence was recognizable, the artists who took part in The Blue Rider were considered to be the pioneers of abstract art or abstract expressionism.

Wassily Kandinsky | The Blue Rider

Their work promoted individual expression and broke free from any artistic restraints. These Nietzsche's words sum up the group's motto, "Who wishes to be creative must first blast and destroy accepted values".

Wassily Kandinsky | Cover for the Blue Rider Almanac, 1911

From Tate Gallery

Der Blaue Reiter was a German expressionist group originating in Munich in 1909.

Der Blaue Reiter translates in English as The Blue Rider. A number of avant-garde artists living in Munich had founded the Neue Kunstler Vereiningung, or New Artist Association (N.K.V.). The most important of these were the Russian born Wassily Kandinsky and the German, Franz Marc.

In 1911 Kandinsky and Marc broke with the rest of the N.K.V. and in December that year held in Munich the first exhibition of Der Blaue Reiter.
This was an informal association rather than a coherent group like Brücke. Other artists closely involved were Paul Klee, August Macke, Gabriele Münter and Marianne von Werefkin.

Artists From Der Blaue Reiter. From Left To Right: Maria Marc, Franz Marc, Bernhard Koehler, Wassily Kandinsky, Heinrich Campendonk, Wassily Kandinsky, Thomas De Hartmann. Munich, 1911

In 1912 Marc and Kandinsky published a collection of essays on art with a woodcut cover by Kandinsky. This was the Almanach Der Blaue Reiter. Why the name was chosen is not entirely clear. Franz Marc adored horses and his many paintings of them and other animals is symptomatic of the turning back to nature (an aspect of primitivism) of many early modern artists.

Kandinsky apparently had always been fascinated by riders on horseback (horses are symbols of power, freedom and pleasure). A Kandinsky painting in 1903 is actually called The Blue Rider. Blue is a colour which has often seemed of special importance to artists and for Kandinsky and Marc, whose favourite colour it was, it seems to have had a mystical significance.

Der Blaue Reiter was brought to an end by the First World War in which both Macke and Marc were killed.

Wassily Kandinsky | Study for Painting with White Form, 1913 | Moma

From Wikipedia

Exhibitions
- First exhibition

December 18, 1911, the "First exhibition of the editorial board of Der Blaue Reiter" (Erste Ausstellung der Redaktion Der Blaue Reiter) opened at the Heinrich Thannhauser's Moderne Galerie in Munich, running through the first days of 1912.
43 works by 14 artists were shown: paintings by Henri Rousseau, Albert Bloch, David Burliuk, Wladimir Burliuk, Heinrich Campendonk, Robert Delaunay, Elisabeth Epstein, Eugen von Kahler, Wassily Kandinsky, August Macke, Franz Marc, Gabriele Münter, Jean Bloé Niestlé and Arnold Schönberg, and an illustrated catalogue edited.

From January 1912 through July 1914, the exhibition toured Europe with venues in Cologne, Berlin, Bremen, Hagen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Budapest, Oslo, Helsinki, Trondheim and Göteborg.

- Second exhibition
February 12 through April 2, 1912, the "Second exhibition of the editorial board of Der Blaue Reiter" showed works in "Black and White" (Zweite Ausstellung der Redaktion Der Blaue Reiter, Schwarz-Weiß) at the "New Art" Gallery of Hans Goltz (Neue Kunst Hans Goltz) in Munich.

- Other shows
The artists of Der Blaue Reiter also participated in:
1912 Cologne, Sonderbund westdeutscher Kunstfreunde und Künstler;
1913 Berlin, Erster Deutscher Herbstsalon organised by Herwarth Walden and his gallery Der Sturm;
The first exhibitions of The Blue Rider included works by Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc, Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, Henri Rousseau, Robert Delaunay, and Arnold Schönberg.
These artists, who early in their careers broke from the mainstream, were later to become the driving force behind modern art as we know it today.

Members

Wassily Kandinsky
Franz Marc
August Macke
Paul Klee
Gabriele Münter
Alexej von Jawlensky
Heinrich Campendonk
Albert Bloch
Natalia Goncharova
Marianne von Werefkin
Lyonel Feininger
Arnold Schoenberg
David Burliuk

Wasily Kandinsky | The Archer (plate facing colophon page) from Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) 1912 (print executed 1908-09)

From The Museum of Modern Art - MoMa

Formed in 1911 in Munich as an association of painters and an exhibiting society led by Vasily Kandinsky and Franz Marc.
Using a visual vocabulary of abstract forms and prismatic colors, Blaue Reiter artists explored the spiritual values of art as a counter to [what they saw as] the corruption and materialism of their age.
The name, meaning "blue rider", refers to a key motif in Kandinsky’s work: the horse and rider.
The group, which published an influential almanac by the same name, dissolved with the onset of World War I.

Franz Marc | The World Cow, 1913 | MoMa

From Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Der Blaue Reiter, (German: “The Blue Rider”) organization of artists based in Germany that contributed greatly to the development of abstract art. Neither a movement nor a school with a definite program, Der Blaue Reiter was a loosely knit organization of artists that organized group shows between 1911 and 1914.
After resigning from the Neue Künstlervereinigung-München (“New Artists’ Society-Munich”), artists Wassily Kandinsky, Gabriele Münter, and Franz Marc organized a show entitled “First Exhibition by the Editors of the Blue Rider", which was held December 1911 to January 1912 at the Moderne Galerie Tannhäuser, Munich.
Forty-three works were shown by 14 artists, including, in addition to Kandinsky and Marc, Henri Rousseau, David and Vladimir Burlyuk, Albert Bloch, and August Macke.
The work of these artists was diverse, but it generally reflected an interest in free experimentation and spiritual expression.

The first exhibition received a mixed critical and public reception, but other artists were drawn to the group’s expressive freedom and eagerly volunteered to take part in a second group exhibition devoted largely to graphic art.
Held in February 1912, this second show included 315 works by over 30 international artists, including Paul Klee, André Derain, Jean Arp, Georges Braque, Maurice de Vlaminck, Mikhail Larionov, Natalya Goncharova, and Pablo Picasso.
By this time it was clear that Der Blaue Reiter artists were expressionistically oriented, as was the earlier German organization Die Brücke; but, unlike Die Brücke, their expressionism took the form of lyrical abstraction. Wishing to give form to mystical feelings, these artists wanted to imbue their art with deep spiritual content.

Der Blaue Reiter painters were variously influenced by the Jugendstil group, Cubism, Futurism, and “naive” folk art.

The position of the group became evident in Der Blaue Reiter Almanach, published in May 1912 and edited by Kandinsky and Marc (the group’s name was taken from this almanac in advance of its publication). The almanac featured essays by various artists as well as reproductions of works of primitive and folk art.

The Blue Rider Almanac, 1912 | Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

The two Blaue Reiter exhibitions traveled throughout Europe from 1912-1914. The almanac was also widely read during this time, further spreading the group’s ideas.
The group’s final exhibition took place at the famous Galerie Der Sturm in Berlin, where their work was included in a show called the “First German Salon d’Automne”, held in September 1913.
At that time the German-American artist Lyonel Feininger became affiliated with the group, and the Russian painter Alexey von Jawlensky, though not officially a member of Der Blaue Reiter, supported its aims.

With the outbreak of World War I and the deaths of Marc and Macke at the front, Der Blaue Reiter dispersed.

While the general public never embraced the radical visual ideas of the movement, the ideas and writings of Der Blaue Reiter artists helped lay the groundwork for a generation of avant-garde experimentation, especially abstraction.
In 1924 Feininger, Kandinsky, Klee (all of whom were teaching at the Weimar Bauhaus at the time), and Jawlensky formed a successor group, Die Blaue Vier (“The Blue Four”).
Members of that group were united by a desire to exhibit together rather than by a similarity of style. They exhibited their work together from 1925-1934, but they were not nearly as influential as Der Blaue Reiter.

Wassily Kandinsky | Color study, squares with concentric circles, 1913 | The Albertina Museum, Vienna

Franz Marc | The Large Blue Horses, 1911 | Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

Franz Marc | The Tower of Blue Horses, 1913