Wassily Kandinsky, Murnau

Murnau, a Bavarian Alpine village not so far from Munich, a place of breathtaking beauty — bound to inspire. The years: 1908-1909. A time and place where magic might happen.

It was, in fact, the best of times, and soon if not yet, the worst of times. For the moment, before the indiscriminate brutality of war ended and ravaged lives, and against a backdrop of growing political turmoil and complexities, there was an exciting flux of internationalism and flow of ideas in Munich among the avant-garde. The city was ‘the place to be.’ It was here that a group of German and Russian artists, including among others, Franz Marc, August Macke, Alexej von Jawlensky, Marianne von Werefkin, Gabriele Münter and Wassily Kandinsky, was to form Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) in 1911. Though lasting only from 1911 through the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, the group was extremely influential in the development of German Expressionism. Four of these artists emerged as couples — Wassily Kandinsky and Gabriele Münter, Alexej von Jawlensky and Marianne von Werefkin — and in Murnau, during 1908 and 1909, they evolved the basic elements of Der Blaue Reiter.

For Kandinsky (Russian), cofounder with Franz Marc (German) of Der Blaue Reiter, the pivotal 1908-1909 years in Murnau embody an important period of artistic and aesthetic development. These gorgeous, luminous works illustrate a transition from the early influences of Van Gogh, Gauguin and the Matisse-led French Fauvists, into an independent vision of increasingly abstracted forms and highly expressionistic use of pure colors and fluid marks that aligned with his evolving theories regarding the spiritual connection in art. The magnificent Dünaberg, 1909, exemplifies this clear new vision in its remarkable balance between figuration and abstraction.

Kandinsky authored Concerning the Spiritual In Art (1910), a landmark book in the history of modern art, the same year that he is credited with the first non-figurative abstract work. This spiritual connection in art and symbolic use of color was fundamental to all the members of Der Blaue Reiter, despite their varying styles.

“The artist must have something to say, for mastery over form is not his goal but rather the adapting of form to its inner meaning … That is beautiful which is produced by the inner need, which springs from the soul.”

(Wassily Kandinsky, 1866-1944; Concerning the Spiritual In Art, 1910)

Related: I Require Art blog, Gabriele Münter

(Jules Cavanaugh, I Require Art™)


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Thank you, Michael. Appreciated.

The Blue Rider group and German Expressionism generally — major sources of my personal artistic pleasures. Particularly enjoy those marvelous woodcuts.

I will explore Warren Dreher’s work. Thank you for the reference and link.


Jules Cavanaugh
I Require Art Studios, LLC

Oh, yes, I neglected to mention I’ve bookmarked your blog.

I saw your Twitter post and decided to check out your blog. Very nice work. I have been an admirer of the Blue Rider group since I first stumbled upon their work. The Detroit Institute of Art has a nice collection. A good modern descendant of Kandinsky et al. is Warren Dreher, who trained at RSDI and has painted in California for the past 37 years. You can check out his work at Warrendreher.com