Gabriele Münter
Overview
 
Gabriele Münter was a German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 expressionist painter who was at the forefront of the Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

 avant-garde
Avant-garde
Avant-garde means "advance guard" or "vanguard". The adjective form is used in English to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics....

 in the early 20th century. Artists and writers associated with German Expressionism shared a rebellious attitude (influenced by the writings of Nietzsche
Friedrich
-Names:*Friedrich , people with the surname Friedrich*Friedrich , people with the given name Friedrich-Other:*Friedrich , a board game about Frederick the Great and the Seven Years' War...

) toward the materialism and mores of German imperial and bourgeois society. German Expressionistic art was an exegetic (and at times agonizing) reaction against the ambiguities and formalism of pre-World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 society.
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
Gabriele Münter was a German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 expressionist painter who was at the forefront of the Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

 avant-garde
Avant-garde
Avant-garde means "advance guard" or "vanguard". The adjective form is used in English to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics....

 in the early 20th century. Artists and writers associated with German Expressionism shared a rebellious attitude (influenced by the writings of Nietzsche
Friedrich
-Names:*Friedrich , people with the surname Friedrich*Friedrich , people with the given name Friedrich-Other:*Friedrich , a board game about Frederick the Great and the Seven Years' War...

) toward the materialism and mores of German imperial and bourgeois society. German Expressionistic art was an exegetic (and at times agonizing) reaction against the ambiguities and formalism of pre-World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 society. Its radical art and avant-garde mentality sought to end the alienation of painting from society.

Life

Münter was born in Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

, and demonstrated an interest in art at an early age. She received private drawing lessons and attended the local Women Artists' School; as a woman, Münter was unable to enroll in the German art academies. Frustrated by a lack of respect due to her gender, Münter traveled to gain experience and find her artistic voice; her two-year visit to the United States from 1898–1900 ultimately solidified her desire to become an artist. For Münter art brought direction and order, rescuing her from aimlessness and giving her satisfaction and self-confidence; her travels had a great impact on her work. Münter left Berlin to attend the progressive Phalanx School
Phalanx(art group)
Phalanx was an association of artists formed in Munich in 1901 who were opposed to old fashioned and conservative viewpoints in art. Founding members were Wassily Kandinsky, Rolf Niczky, Waldemar Hecker, and Wilhelm Hüsgen. Kandinsky was elected president of the association and also became the...

 in Munich, where she studied sculpture
Sculpture
Sculpture is three-dimensional artwork created by shaping or combining hard materials—typically stone such as marble—or metal, glass, or wood. Softer materials can also be used, such as clay, textiles, plastics, polymers and softer metals...

, printmaking
Printmaking
Printmaking is the process of making artworks by printing, normally on paper. Printmaking normally covers only the process of creating prints with an element of originality, rather than just being a photographic reproduction of a painting. Except in the case of monotyping, the process is capable...

 and painting
Painting
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

. In 1902, she began an intimate personal relationship with school director Wassily Kandinsky
Wassily Kandinsky
Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky was an influential Russian painter and art theorist. He is credited with painting the first purely-abstract works. Born in Moscow, Kandinsky spent his childhood in Odessa. He enrolled at the University of Moscow, studying law and economics...

; they were later engaged to be married. By 1907, Münter qualified as a working artist with 800 other female painters and sculptors of the female sex:

Work

In 1911 Münter, Kandinsky and Franz Marc
Franz Marc
Franz Marc was a German painter and printmaker, one of the key figures of the German Expressionist movement...

 founded the avant-garde expressionist group known as Der Blaue Reiter
Der Blaue Reiter
Der Blaue Reiter was a group of artists from the Neue Künstlervereinigung München in Munich, Germany. The group was founded by a number of Russian emigrants, including Wassily Kandinsky, Alexej von Jawlensky, Marianne von Werefkin, and native German artists, such as Franz Marc, August Macke and...

(The Blue Rider). Within the group, artistic approaches and aims varied amongst artists; however, they shared a common desire to express spiritual truths through art. They championed modern art, the connection between visual art and music, the spiritual and symbolic associations of color and a spontaneous, intuitive approach to painting in its move toward abstraction.

Later years

During World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 the couple left Germany to take refuge in Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

, but since Kandinsky was Russian he was forced to return to Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 in 1914. He divorced his estranged wife (his cousin, Anja Chimiakin), remarried in Russia and never saw Münter again. In the fall of 1917, Münter moved to Copenhagen. She returned to Germany following the war, but was relatively inactive in the arts until 1928 and her relationship with Johannes Eichner. In 1931, she moved back to her house in Murnau with Eichner.
During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, she hid Kandinsky's works (and those of other members of the Blue Rider) from the Nazis. In 1956, she received the Culture Prize from the City of Munich. In 1960 Münter's work was exhibited for the first time in the US, and in 1961 it was shown at the Mannheim Kunsthalle. Münter lived the rest of her life in Murnau, traveling back and forth to Munich. She died at home in Murnau am Staffelsee
Murnau am Staffelsee
Murnau am Staffelsee is a market town in the district of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, in the Oberbayern region of Bavaria, Germany.Murnau is situated on the edge of the Bavarian alps, approx. 70 km south of Munich. Directly to its west is the Staffelsee lake.-History:Murnau was first documented in...

 on 19 May 1962.

Style

Münter was part of a small subgroup of artists active in transforming late Impressionist, Neo-Impressionist and Jugendstil painting into the more radical, non-naturalistic art now identified as Expressionism. Early on, Münter developed a great interest in landscapes. Münter's landscape paintings employ a radical Jugendstil (or Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau is an international philosophy and style of art, architecture and applied art—especially the decorative arts—that were most popular during 1890–1910. The name "Art Nouveau" is French for "new art"...

) simplicity and suggestive symbolism with softly-muted colors, collapsed pictorial space and flattened forms. She enjoyed exploring the world of children; using colorful prints of children and toys, Münter shows precision and simplicity of form in her rejection of symbolic content.

By 1908, her work began to change. Heavily influenced by Matisse
Henri Matisse
Henri Matisse was a French artist, known for his use of colour and his fluid and original draughtsmanship. He was a draughtsman, printmaker, and sculptor, but is known primarily as a painter...

 and Fauvism
Fauvism
Fauvism is the style of les Fauves , a short-lived and loose group of early twentieth-century Modern artists whose works emphasized painterly qualities and strong colour over the representational or realistic values retained by Impressionism...

, Gauguin
Paul Gauguin
Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin was a leading French Post-Impressionist artist. He was an important figure in the Symbolist movement as a painter, sculptor, print-maker, ceramist, and writer...

 and van Gogh
Vincent van Gogh
Vincent Willem van Gogh , and used Brabant dialect in his writing; it is therefore likely that he himself pronounced his name with a Brabant accent: , with a voiced V and palatalized G and gh. In France, where much of his work was produced, it is...

, Münter's work became more representative and she took refuge in the small Bavarian market town of Murnau. Murnau was a village untouched by industrialization, progress, and technology; it was here, in Münter's landscape paintings, that she emphasized nature, imaginative landscapes and an opposition to German modernism. Münter's landscapes are unusual in their use of blues, greens, yellows, and pinks, and color plays a large role in Münter's early works. Color is used to evoke feelings: picturesque, inviting, imaginative and rich in fantasy. In Münter's landscapes, she presents the village and countryside as manifestations of human life; there is a constant interaction and coexistence with nature.

In 1911, with the establishment of Der Blaue Reiter, Münter's work changed stylistically once again. There is a transition from copying nature more-or-less impressionistically to feeling its content, abstracting, and drawing out an extract. There grew an interest in painting the spirit of the modern civilization, its social and political turmoil and its gravitation towards materialism and alienation
Social alienation
The term social alienation has many discipline-specific uses; Roberts notes how even within the social sciences, it “is used to refer both to a personal psychological state and to a type of social relationship”...

. Münter noted that pictures are all moments of life: instantaneous visual experiences, generally rapid and spontaneous; her paintings each have their own identity, their own shape, and their own function.

For Münter, it is the use of color which expresses these ideas. The German Expressionists moved towards primitive art as a model of abstraction (or non-representational, non-academic, non-bourgeois art. The German artist looked not for harmony of outward appearance, but for the mystery hidden behind the external form. He (or she) was interested in the soul of things, wanting to lay it bare.

External links

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