Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider). I am never quite sure whether it is an art movement, a book, an exhibition or what. I do know that for a few short years before the First World War it represented a group of avant garde artists based in Bavaria, when Munich was the centre of the Art World. Their consideration of art as a spiritual movement is still felt all these years later, probably more so.
German expressionism is an inadequate description, and goes nowhere to understanding their wide and forward looking aspirations. The main protagonists are probably Paul Klee, Franz Marc and Wassily Kandinsky. All had their particular styles and brought artistic and political ideas to the group. But there were many more, such as August Macke and Robert Delaunay. They also led the way to bringing French impressionist and post impressionist art to Germany, against the desires of the establishment.
Kandinsky was probably the driving force behind the secession and move away from the establishment towards modernism and abstraction in particular. It is due to the enormously generous gift of his pupil, muse and sometimes partner artist, Gabriel Münter, that the Lenbachhaus is such a great museum. Although Kandinsky’s work is held in all the major art galleries in the world this is the place to go and see his largest collection, together with many works by Marc and others.
What is as equally pleasing is that the display is so superbly curated. Sitting in some of the rooms and lounging in huge comfortable leather chairs taking in the colour and spiritual ideas is quite stunning.
The First World War saw the end of Der Blaue Reiter as the group dispersed. Macke and Marc were both killed in action in the conflict. Klee and Kandinsky returned to Switzerland and Russia but met again at the Bauhaus in Germany in the twenties. Gabriel Münter moved to Sweden and was last to survive until 1962, when she gifted all the works to the Lenbachhaus
If you are only in Munich for a short while, like we were, and can only visit one gallery make the Lenbachhaus your target. You will not be disappointed. The Gallery is open daily except Mondays and reasonably priced for an excellent visit. The second floor is dedicated to Die Blaue Reiter and the lower floor to general twentieth century modern art associated with Munich.