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LECTURE: Joseph Cassar, "The Blue Rider Group, Munich 1911 - 1914"

  • The Suburban Club 7600 Park Heights Baltimore, MD (map)

The Blue Rider Group, Munich 1911-1914
Joseph Cassar, professor of art, University of Maryland University College and the New York Times Knowledge Network

The Blue Rider Group was founded by a number of Russian emigrants, including Wassily Kandinsky, Alexej von Jawlensky, and native German artists, such as Franz Marc, August Macke and Gabriele Münter. The Der Blaue Reiter movement lasted from 1911 to 1914, and along with Die Brücke which was founded in 1905, was fundamental to Expressionism. The name of the movement is the title of a painting that Kandinsky created in 1903. Kandinsky wrote 20 years later that the name is derived from Marc's enthusiasm for horses and Kandinsky's love of riders, combined with a shared love of the color blue. The artists also shared a desire to express spiritual truths through their art. They believed in the promotion of modern art; the connection between visual art and music; the spiritual and symbolic associations of color; and a spontaneous, intuitive approach to painting. As a result of their encounters with cubist, fauvist and Rayonist ideas, they moved towards abstraction. Der Blaue Reiter organized exhibitions in 1911 and 1912, touring Germany. The group was disrupted by the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. Marc and Macke were killed in combat. Kandinsky, von Werefkin and von Jawlensky were forced to move back to Russia because of their Russian citizenship. Consequently, Der Blaue Reiter was short-lived, lasting for only three years from 1911 to 1914.

$15 door fee for guests and subscribers