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The Blue Rider

The Blue Rider In 1911, while working at the Blue Rider Almanac, Kandinsky, together with a group of young Avantgardist artists, establishes an international association having the same name in Munich and Murnau. Franz Marc is one of the originators of the association, along with Kandinsky. The name came up during their conversation over coffee: they both loved the blue color in paintings, Marc liked horses and Kandinsky was fond of riders.

The group comprises August Macke, Marianna Verevkina, Alexei Jawlensky, and Paul Klee. The Burliuk brothers, Gabriele Munter, and R.Delaunay, as well as a number of dancers and composers, also participate in the Blue Rider activities. The group takes an active part in the movement for renewal of the German art of the early 20th century. In this respect, they are consistent with the Bridge (another artistic association established in Berlin and Dresden several years earlier). The Blue Rider becomes a truly international community. Russians, Germans and Frenchmen are all united in their desire to create new art independent of existing rules and canons, and to withdraw from ‘the Modernist programme of the modern art which is externally oriented’. While representatives of the Bridge gravitate towards Figurative Expressionism, a lot of participants of the Blue Rider tend to abstract compositions, set colour-related, pictural and ornamental problems and seek associative solutions.

The first exhibition of the association is held on 18th December 1911, in the Tannhauser Gallery, Munich. The paintings of different members of the group forming the exposition are very close to each other. The exhibited “Running Horse” by Campendonk was most likely inspired by Franz Makc’s creative wok (particularly, by the Large Blue Horses), Macke’s Storm takes over from Kandinsky’s tradition, while Kandinsky, in his turn, presents his colour experiments Composition V and Improvisation 22 to be judged by art lovers.

In March 1912, the second exposition is held in H. Goltz Galley. Other groups of artists also take part in it including the Bridge, Suprematists and Cubists. In May of the same year the Blue Rider publishes an almanac (and distributes it during the Sonderbund exhibition in Cologne) where participants provide their reflections on the history and development of painting. Articles are accompanied by illustrations showing the commonality of ancient art in different parts of the world. The authors pay great attention to children’s drawing regarding it as rightful painting which was rather a revolutionary idea. The association also sticks to its principle of art synthesis: several columns are dedicated to music.

Kandinsky’s work Concerning the Spiritual in Art where considerable attention is paid to the aesthetics of form and colour as well as the psychological role of hues, became the quintessence of those Blue Rider’s/ trends in art. During this period, figurativeness gradually vanishes from his works (With the Black Arc) and he creates colourful paintings which look like photographic phenomena embodied in paint.

The second (and the last) almanac was published by the Rider in 1914. A year earlier, the last major exposition of the association takes place in the spaces provided by the Storm Magazine in Berlin. When World War I begins, Kandinsky leaves Germany and that is the end of the Blue Rider period in his biography. When its leaders break up, the group itself actually ceases to exist. In the 1920s, after the Revolution in Russia, Kandinsky returns to Germany, joins the Bauhaus School and meets some of his old companions from the Blue Rider (including Klee). However, the association was never revived in its original state.

SEE the Almanac