Painting of two people on hill i Gabriele Münter, Jawlensky and Werefkin, 1909 Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich © DACS 2005

Gabriele Münter: The Search for Expression 1906-1917

23 June to 11 September 2005

Gabriele Münter (1877-1962) played a vital role in the development of German Expressionism in the early years of the 20th century. She was at the forefront of a group of highly influential avant-garde artists, including her lover Wassily Kandinsky, who redirected the course of German modernism and shaped Expressionist aesthetics. Münter was a founder member both of the progressive, Neue Künstlervereinigung München, (Munich New Artists’ Association) and the celebrated avant-garde group, Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider).

This exhibition charted Münter’s extraordinary artistic development from her early Impressionist-inspired paintings of Sèvres on the outskirts of Paris, to the bold and brightly coloured innovative Expressionist works she produced in the small town of Murnau, deep in the Bavarian Alps. It was here, accompanied by Kandinsky and fellow painters Alexei Jawlensky and Marianne von Werefkin, that the foundations of the Blaue Reiter movement were laid. The paintings in the exhibition showed how Münter thoroughly revitalised the genres of portraiture, landscape and still life, achieving a distinct voice within both her immediate circle and the wider European avant-garde.

The exhibition included work from the First World War period when the Blaue Reiter was forced to disband and Münter, now separated from Kandinsky, produced a series of haunting and melancholic portraits of women in interiors, the most important examples of which were on display.

The range and diversity of the paintings shown in this exhibition demonstrated that Münter’s work never solidified into a stylistic formula but was always searching. As she put it, When I begin to paint, it’s like leaping suddenly into deep waters, and I never know beforehand whether I will be able to swim.

Gabriele Münter: The Search For Expression 1906-1917 was accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, with essays by Dr Shulamith Behr from The Courtauld Institute of Art and Dr Annegret Hoberg from the Lenbachhaus.