Gabriele Munter

1877-1962

Gabriele Munter was a German Expressionist painter.  She is known for her portraits and landscapes done with a simplicity of forms, expressive use of line, and vivid coloration.

Munter studied design at Dusseldorf Academy since women were not allowed to study fine art there.  She took courses in painting in Munich at the Kunstlerinnenvereins and at the Union of Women Artists. Later in 1902, she enrolled in the art school, recently established by the Phalanx group, where she met and became involved with the Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky. She completed her pictorial training in the Bavarian village of Murnau in 1908 where she and Kandinsky stayed for some time.

The period spent at Murnau was rich and productive for her.  She painted portraits and landscapes, which showed her control of design and strong sense of color.  Her use of brilliant colors, far removed from the colors of nature, showed her transition from copying nature to making a type of folk art.  Her landscapes emphasized nature in opposition to German modernism. She reduced content to the essential, surrounding her patches of color with black contours.  Her 1910 “Boating” showed herself – from a back view – rowing a small boat.  At the center of the canvas, she painted Kandinsky, standing in the boat, looking down at her.

Between 1907 and 1909 she exhibited in Paris at the Salon des Independents and at the Salon d’Automne. In 1909, she was one of the founders of the Munich-based, avant-garde Neue Kunstlervereinigung (New Artists’ Association).  In 1911, Kandinsky, Franz Marc, and Munter formed a new expressionist group Der Blaue Reiter (the Blue Rider).  On December 8, 1911, Blue Rider had its first exhibit showing forty-three works by various painters in addition to the work of the three founders.

In 1913, she had her first one-person show in Berlin.  In 1914, she began to distance herself from Kandinsky and separated from him in 1916 after being together for thirteen years.  She took several trips to Scandinavian countries, Italy, and France before settling in Murnau in 1931 with historian Johannes Eichner. She continued to paint and to develop the themes of Expressionism.

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