Art Movements Throughout History: Der Blaue Reiter

Franz Marc was one of the leading artist of the "Der Blaue Reiter" movement.

Der Blaue Reiter was neither a movement nor a school, but rather an organization or group of artists. It was based in Germany and was founded by several Russian emigrants who contributed greatly to the development of abstract art. The group united in the rejection of the Neue Künstlervereinigung München. Der Blaue Reiter was founded among others by Wassily Kandinsky, the founder of Neue Künstlervereinigung München. The New Artists’ Society-Munich was perceived as hostile, too strict, and traditional. Der Blaue Reiter mounted several exhibitions, with the first exhibition held from December 1911 to January 1912 at Moderne Galerie in Munich. During the exhibition, 43 artworks reflecting free experimentation and spiritual expression were displayed by 14 artists. The movement lasted from 1911 to 1914.

History of the Movement

Der Blaue Reiter began in Munich as expressionism alongside the distorted figurative style of the Die Brucke. While the two German Expressionism movements confronted the alienation within an increasing modernization that was being created by the “New Artists’ Society-Munich, Der Blaue Reiter wanted to overcome such alienations through the spiritual value of art. The group was started by some of the founders of the New Artists’ Society who felt they could express their work without restrictions. The publicity enjoyed by the Der Blaue Reiter encouraged the members to mount several exhibitions making it an indispensable force in the development of the early avant-garde painting.

Key Focus of the Der Blaue Reiter

Although Der Blaue Reiter had no defined program or policy, Kandinsky developed a treatise known as “Concerning the Spiritual in Art” that highlighted the group’s pursuit of abstract art. The work of the artists’ who supported Der Blaue Reiter was built around the idea of color and form that were believed to carry concrete spiritual values. The artists also drew parallels between music and painting in an attempt to find a language to express their unique approach to abstract art. Music was explored as an abstract per excellence lacking figurative manifestation. They often named their works as Composition, Improvisation, and Etudes among other names. Besides the founding artists, the movement also featured proponents of Fauvism and Russian Avant-garde leading to the development of the modern art in central Europe.

Concepts and Styles

The painting style differed from one artist to the other within the Der Blaue Reiter. However, there were certain notable similarities. The movement centered its painting on color and form almost similar to the cubist Avant-garde in Paris. Colors had specific meanings as was outlaid in Concerning the Spiritual in Art. For instance, yellow was considered a color of warmth and excitement, while blue was a color of peace and spirituality. Music was used to evoke deep spiritual resonances and emotions while musical instruments evoked certain images and association. Primitivism concept was used by the Der Blaue Reiter in their work to render a feeling of less commitment to the pursuit of naturalism and beauty which was considered the ultimate goal of art.

End of the Der Blaue Reiter

Der Blaue Reiter came to end almost entirely by the outbreak of World War I. Kandinsky and several other artists were deported due to their Russian citizenship. With no one to promote Der Blaue Reiter ideas, it died a natural death in 1914.


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