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Münter, Gabrielefree

German, 20th century, female.

Born 19 February 1877, in Berlin; died 19 May 1962, in Murnau.

Painter, engraver. Portraits, landscapes, landscapes with figures, still-lifes.

Der Blaue Reiter group.

Gabriele MÜNTER: signature or monogram

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After attending drawing courses in Düsseldorf in 1897, Gabriele Münter continued her artistic studies in Munich from May 1901 at the Künstlerinnen-Verein (association for women painters) in Munich, the academy there being restricted to men at that time. In 1902 she entered the Die Phalanx School, run by Wassily Kandinsky, under whose guidance she studied. She initially followed Wilhelm Hüsgen's courses, then those of Kandinsky, who was responsible for the painting class (still-lifes, portraiture, landscapes, nudes). She became intimate with Kandinsky, travelling with him from 1904 to 1908 - a one-month trip to Holland, the winter 1904-1905 in Tunisia, summer 1905 in Dresden, winter 1905-1906 in Rapallo followed by Sèvres near Paris where she remained for a whole year. In summer 1908 she was in Murnau (Upper Bavaria) with Kandinsky, Alexei Jawlensky and his companion Marianne Werefkin. She bought a house there, under Kandinsky's influence. They stayed there intermittently together or alone until 1914. She was one of the founder members of the New Artists' Association of Munich ( Neue Künstlervereinigung München) from which she resigned in 1911 with Kandinsky, Marc, Macke and Kubin amongst others to found the Blaue Reiter group. At the outbreak of World War I she left for Switzerland with Kandinsky, later returning to Munich, while he went back to Russia. She separated definitively from him in 1915 and spent 1914-1920 in the Scandinavian countries. She returned to Germany in 1920, where from 1927 onwards, she resumed her artistic activity, settling for good in Murnau in 1931. She conserved several of Kandinsky's paintings from the Blaue Reiter period. In 1957 she left an important collection of Kandinsky's works in her possession and some of her own output to the Lenbachhaus in Munich. In 1966 the Gabriele Münter and Johannes Eicher museum was founded.

It was in Paris that she first achieved recognition: the journal Tendances Nouvelles published a few of her engravings on wood. In 1907 during her Parisian years she went back to painting of Post-Impressionist inspiration. The stay with Kandinsky and Jawlensky in Murnau in 1908 was an intensely creative period: 'After agonising briefly, I have taken the plunge, moving from copying nature - more or less Impressionist - to the understanding of content, the rendering of a concentrated form', she was to claim. She painted mountain landscapes in a sweeping, spontaneous brush stroke, moving away from naturalism and towards expression. This new vision of nature was also inspired by Gauguin's Cloissonism, which Jawlensky mastered so well: Towards Evening, 1909; Wind and Clouds, 1910. What she brought out so well in these landscapes of the Alpine foreland was the particular atmosphere of the mountains when the föhn blew, conveying these forms in blues and greys. Not only a talented landscapist, she also produced numerous portraits: in the summer of 1909, that of Jawlensky, that of Marianne von Werefkin, where the reflections of the violet contour of her dress stand out distinctly against a bright yellow background. In 1910 she painted Kandinsky at the Tea Table, likewise characterised by a rigidity of composition and use of expanses of pure colour. Like Kandinsky and the future artists of the Blaue Reiter group, she was interested in the expressive force of popular Bavarian art.

Münter and Kandinsky collected a number of objects and popular sculptures. She was inspired by the imagery of paintings under glass, learning the technique from the last artists using it in Murnau and adopting its characteristics in her own painting: simplified forms, bright colours, the use of black outlines. In her highly original still-lifes of 1911 she brought in wooden madonnas, crucifixes and under glass paintings, informing her compositions with a mystical dimension which linked the spiritualist and aesthetic aspects of the Blaue Reiter. Her Sombre Still-life was presented at the first Blaue Reiter exhibition in Munich in 1911-1912. Conflict in her relationship with Kandinsky accounts for her diminished production between 1912 and 1914; the works of this period, differing in style and betraying Cubist influence, can also be linked to Die Brücke and to her personal taste for materialistic pantheism. Herwarth Walden, the organiser of the first Autumn Salon in Berlin in 1913, vigorously defended Münter's work until 1919. He presented her first one-woman show in 1913 in the Sturm Galerie in Berlin. She was often to change style, only finding her Expressionist penchant around 1930, her friendship with the philosopher and art historian Johannes Eicher and her return to Murnau being pivotal in this respect. If the sentimental destabilisation which followed her separation from Kandinsky explains in part the uncertain nature of her art after 1914, it is still true that during the Blaue Reiter period she carried out original and powerful works which owe little to Kandinsky's influence.

Group Exhibitions

1907, Salon des Indépendants

1907, 1908, 1909, Salon d'Automne

1909, 1910, New Artists' Association of Munich (Neue Künsterlervereinigung München) and Blaue Reiter exhibitions

1911, Thannhauser Galerie, Munich (including six canvases by Günter)

1912, Thannhauser Galerie, Munich (including 14 canvases)

1913, 1st German Herbstsalon (Autumn Salon), Berlin (organised by Herwarth Walden, including Günter's Black Mask with Rose)

1993, Modern Figures 1905-1914 - Expressionism in Germany (Figure du moderne 1905-1914 - L'Expressionnisme en Allemagne), Musée d'Art Moderne, Paris

Solo Exhibitions

1908, Kunstsalon Lenoble, Cologne

1913, Galerie Der Sturm, Berlin

1920, Galerie Tannhauser, Munich

1933-1935, Paula Modersohn-Becker-Haus, Bremen

1937, Galerie Valentien, Stuttgart

1957, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich

1962, 1977, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich

1967-1968, Heidelberg, Stuttgart, Münster (travelling retrospective exhibition)

1980-1981, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts and University Art Museum in Princeton (travelling exhibition)

1988, Kunstverein, Hamburg

1988, Hessisches Landmuseum, Darmstadt

1988, Aichtal, Firma

1992-1993, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus in Munich and Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt (travelling exhibition)

2001, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich

2005, Gabriele Münter: The Search For Expression 1906-1917, Courtauld Gallery, London

Museum and Gallery Holdings

Bielefeld (Kunsthalle): Still-life with Small Bird (1914)

Hagen (Karl Ernst Osthaus-Mus.): Landscape with White Mir (1910)

Hanover (Sprengel Mus.): Wind and Clouds (1910)

Munich (Staatsgal. Moderne Kunst): Man in Armchair (1913)

Munich (Städtische Gal. im Lenbachhaus): Fraulein Mathilde (1908); Listening (Portrait of Jawlensky) (1909); Autumn (1910); Harvest (1910-1911); Village Street in Winter (1911); Sombre Still-life (1911); Kandinsky at Table (1911); Man at Table (1911); Sombre Still-life (1911); St George and the Dragon (1913); Still-life with White Horse (1935)

Saarbrücken (Saarlandmus.): Landscape with Church (1909)

Auction Records

New York, 11 Dec 1963: Kandinsky in His Garden, USD 4,000

New York, 3 April 1968: Interior, Red Table, USD 5,250

Cologne, 29 April 1971: Landscape with Yellow Cloud, DEM 15,000

Düsseldorf, 14 Nov 1973: Still-life with Flowers (1934) DEM 17,000

Munich, 17 May 1974: Still-life with Flowers, DEM 22,000

Hamburg, 4 June 1976: Landscape of Murnau (c. 1909, gouache, 17½ × 12 ins/44.2 × 30.5 cm) DEM 4,800

Munich, 24 May 1977: View from the Window (1928, oil on card, 23 × 28 ins/58.5 × 71 cm) DEM 25,600

Cologne, 19 May 1979: Vase of Flowers (lithograph in six colours, 24¾ × 19¼ ins/62.8 × 49 cm) DEM 2,000

Munich, 29 May 1979: Still-life with Flowers (1957, gouache, 17 × 14¼ ins/43 × 36 cm) DEM 5,300

London, 4 Nov 1979: Landscape near Murnau (pen and wash, 12 × 9½ ins/30.5 × 24 cm) GBP 420

Munich, 27 Nov 1979: Main Street in Murnau, a Sunday in May (1924, oil on card, 20 × 13¾ ins/50.7 × 35 cm) DEM 32,000

London, 31 March 1981: Portrait of a Girl (wash and pencil, 10½ × 9 ins/26.4 × 22.8 cm) GBP 850

Munich, 26 Nov 1981: Mountainous Landscape (watercolour/pencil outlines, 12¾ × 19 ins/32.2 × 48.2 cm) GBP 2,400

Munich, 8 June 1982: Mother and Son (c. 1917, etching, 4 × 1½ ins/10.3 × 3.7 cm) DEM 3,000

Munich, 31 May 1983: Mountainous Landscape (1923, pen, 6¼ × 9 ins/16 × 22 cm) DEM 3,400

London, 6 Dec 1983: Blue Mountain (Murnau) (1908, oil on canvas, 10¼ × 13¾ ins/25.8 × 34.8 cm) GBP 16,000

London, 26 June 1984: At the Lock, Stockholm (1916, dry-point, 3 × 4 ins/7.5 × 9.9 cm) GBP 650

Cologne, 8 Dec 1984: Dahlias (1937, tempera, 17½ × 13 ins/44.5 × 33 cm) DEM 30,000

Munich, 25 Nov 1985: Dovecote (tempera and watercolour, 18¼ × 14¾ ins/46.5 × 37.5 cm) DEM 13,000

Munich, 6 June 1986: Black Mask with Pink (1912, oil on canvas, 22¼ × 19¼ ins/56.5 × 49 cm) DEM 115,000

New York, 12 Nov 1987: Murnau Burggraben (1959-1960, watercolour/pencil outlines, 11¾ × 9¾ ins/30 × 25 cm) USD 31,000

Munich, 8 June 1988: Seated Woman in Straw Hat (ink, 18 × 12 ins/46 × 30.5 cm); Still-life Russian Easter (oil on paper, 19 × 15¾ ins/48.3 × 39.9 cm) DEM 52,800

New York, 6 Oct 1988: Little Red Riding Hood (1912, oil on canvas, 13 × 16 ins/33.1 × 40.7 cm) USD 77,000

London, 29 Nov 1988: Flowers and a Figurine (1910, oil on card, 17 × 12¼ ins/43.2 × 31.2 cm) GBP 26,400

New York, 16 Feb 1989: Street in Murnauer with Yoked Oxen (1911, oil on card/synthetic resin, 19½ × 26 ins/49.5 × 66 cm) USD 66,000

Munich, 13 Dec 1989: Zinnias (1934, oil on card, 16¼ × 13 ins/41 × 33 cm) DEM 71,500

Munich, 31 May 1990: White Centre (1954, oil on canvas, 16 × 13 ins/40.5 × 33 cm) DEM 41,800

New York, 14 Feb 1991: Mountain Village (oil on paper, 12½ × 19 ins/31.8 × 48.2 cm) USD 29,700

London, 19 March 1991: Tunisia: The Last Ray of Sun (1905, oil on canvas, 9¼ × 13 ins/23.5 × 33 cm) GBP 16,500

Berlin, 30 May 1991: Portrait of Anna Aagaard (1917, oil on canvas, 37 × 26¾ ins/94 × 68 cm) DEM 144,300

Munich, 26-27 Nov 1991: Large Bouquet in Blue Vase (1959, oil and gouache, 24 × 17 ins/61 × 43 cm) DEM 25,300

New York, 12 May 1992: Study for Blue Sea (oil on card, 19 × 26½ ins/48.5 × 67.6 cm) USD 231,000

Berlin, 29 May 1992: Still-life of Flowers (oil on card, 17¾ × 13 ins/45 × 33 cm) DEM 99,440

New York, 12 Nov 1992: On the Edge of the Starnbergersee (1908, oil on card, 13 × 16 ins/33 × 40.7 cm) USD 236,500

Berlin, 27 Nov 1992: Beach Huts on Lakeside (oil on card, 11 × 13¾ ins/27 × 35 cm) DEM 47,460

London, 20 May 1993: Still-life with Japonese Figures (oil on card, 19 × 13 ins/48.2 × 33 cm) GBP 54,300

New York, 11 May 1994: Houses of Riegsee (1920, oil on card, 13 × 16 ins/33 × 40.6 cm) USD 145,500

London, 28 Nov 1995: Flowers and Shadows (1935, oil on card, 13½ × 16½ ins/34 × 42 cm) GBP 29,900

London, 9 Oct 1996: Still-life with China Lamp (1918, oil on canvas, 40 × 29¾ ins/100.7 × 75.5 cm) GBP 67,500

London, 4 Dec 1996: Vase of Flowers (c. 1908, oil on canvas, 21½ × 24¾ ins/54.5 × 63 cm) GBP 102,700

New York, 19 Feb 1997: Boat Outing with Kandinsky (1909, oil on card, 15¾ × 10¼ ins/40.3 × 26 cm) USD 453,500

London, 9 Oct 1997: Outside the Church (1931, oil on panel, 12¾ × 16 ins/32.7 × 40.8 cm) GBP 62,000

London, 6 Oct 1999: Gerade Strasse, Violett (1909, oil on board, 13 × 16 ins/33 × 41 cm) GBP 140,000

London, 7 Oct 1999: Schoolhouse in Murnau (1908, oil on canvas, 16 × 13 ins/41 × 33 cm) GBP 160,000

New York, 10 May 2000: Child with Doll (1909, oil on board, 27 × 19 ins/69 × 48 cm) USD 600,000

London, 17 Oct 2000: Pfarrgasse, Murnau (1908, oil on board, 13 × 17 ins/33 × 44 cm) GBP 270,000

Munich, 19 May 2001: Portrait of Woman (1911, oil on board, 27 × 20 ins/69 × 50 cm) DEM 220,000

Munich, 19 May 2001: Kandinsky and Erma Bossi at Table (oil on canvas, 19 × 28 ins/49 × 70 cm) DEM 830,000

Munich, 4 June 2002: Portrait of Young Woman Wearing Large Hat - Polin (1909, oil on board, 28 × 20 ins/70 × 50 cm) EUR 164,000

Berlin, 7 June 2002: Still-life in a Circle (1911, oil on card, 33 × 28 ins/84 × 70 cm) EUR 330,000

New York, 5 Nov 2003: Gartentoerl (1912, oil on board, 13 × 18 ins/33 × 45 cm) USD 290,000

Berlin, 28 Nov 2003: Landscape in March II - Landscape with Solitary Farmstead (oil on canvas, 22 × 13 ins/56 × 34 cm) EUR 210,000

Munich, 14 May 2004: Painting (oil on board, 27 × 19 ins/69 × 48 cm) EUR 200,000

Berlin, 26 Nov 2004: Tiger Lily in Landscape (1939, oil on canvas, 22 × 18 ins/55 × 45 cm) EUR 190,000

Bibliography

  • Eicher, Johannes: Kandinsky und Gabriele Münter - von Ursprüngen moderner Kunst, F. Bruckmann, Munich, 1957.
  • Rothel, Hans Konrad: Gabriele Munter, Oil Paintings 1903-1937, exhibition catalogue, Marlborough Fine Art, London, 1960.
  • Dorival, Bernard: Le Fauvisme français et les débuts de l'expressionnisme allemand, exhibition catalogue, Musée national d'Art moderne, Paris, 1966.
  • Helms, Sabine: Gabriele Münter. Das druckgraphische Werk, exhibition catalogue, Städtische Gal. im Lenbachhaus, Munich, 1967.
  • Pfeiffer-Belli, Erich: Gabriele Münter. Zeichnungen und Aquarelle (mit einem Katalog von Sabine Helms), Mann Verlag, Berlin, 1979.
  • Munter, Gabriele: Hinterglasbilder, Piper, Zurich, 1981.
  • Kleine, Gisela: Gabriele Münter und Wassily Kandinsky: Biographie eines Paares, Insel-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 1990.
  • Hoberg, Annegret: Figure du moderne 1905-1914 - L'Expressionnisme en Allemagne, exhibition catalogue, musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, 1993.
  • Hoberg, Annegret: Wassily Kandinsky and Gabriele Munter: Letters and Reminiscences, 1902-1914, Prestel, Munich, 1994.
  • Heller, Reinhold: Gabriele Munter: The Years of Expressionism, 1903-1920, Prestel, Munich, New York, c. 1997.