Gabriele Münter (German, 1887–1962) was an Expressionist painter and founding member of Der Blaue Reiter, a German artist collective instrumental in the development of Expressionism. Born to an upper-class family in Berlin, Münter pursued art despite cultural conventions that discouraged women from such interests. She studied painting, printing making, and sculpture at the progressive Phalanx School in Munich. There, she met and studied under Wassily Kandinksy (Russian, 1866–1944), the school’s director. The two were professionally and romantically involved for 12 years. They traveled extensively in Europe and America before settling in Munich in 1908. During these travels, Münter discovered the small village of Murnau in the Bavarian Alps where she would later buy a house and spend much of her life.

In 1911, Münter, Kandinsky, and Franz Marc (German, 1880–1916) formed Der Blaue Reiter, and Münter began showing alongside group members. Her work of this period was characteristically Expressionist, evoking intense moments of being through simplified forms, expressive line, and flat, bold colors. Münter portrayed landscapes, flowers, and images of village life in Murnau in much of her work, a reaction against the increasing urbanization and alienation of modern life. Her relationship with Kandisnky ended when the outbreak of World War I forced him to return to Russia. During the war, Münter hid many of his and other Der Blaue Reiter members’ works in Murnau, saving them from harm.

Münter split much of the rest of her life between Munich and Murnau. While Kandinsky and other Expressionist began to embrace abstraction, Münter’s work remained representational. Her works were featured at a large show in Kunsthalle Mannheim in 1961. She died the following year in Murnau.

Timeline

1877
Born in Berlin, Germany
1962
Died in Murnau, Germany