WASSILY KANDINSKY Biography, Artworks Page: 2

W. Kandinsky. Cover design for Frontpage - Der Blaue Reiter-Almanac 1912
W. Kandinsky. Cover design for Frontpage - Der Blaue Reiter-Almanac 1912
The youthful French Fauves and Cubists were invited to the second NKV exhibition in September 1910; the catalogue was embellished with statements by Le Fauconnier, the two Burliuks, Kandinsky, and Redon. Paintings by Picasso, Braque, Derain, Rouault, Van Dongen, Vlaminck, and other non-Germans were shown. Here as at the Independents in Paris, boundaries were freely crossed in a spirit of cultural internationalism not to be obliterated even by the war, during which the periodical 'Die Weißen Blätter' continued on Swiss soil to publish contributions from avant-garde writers of all countries.

NKV art from 1910 to 1912 showed a homogeneous character, far more than would its Blue Rider successor. Most of the earlier works tended toward a dynamism of flat, decorative color areas and somewhat stylized linear rhythms. The approach was mainly symbolic in a still underlying Jugendstil fashion, with a clear insistence on the importance of the object and its literary content.

In 1910 Marc and Macke became friends and made contact with Kandinsky. During this year Kandinsky wrote his influential 'Concerning the Spiritual in Art' and took the decisive step of turning toward nonobjective art. In 1911 Kandinsky joined Marc, Macke, Klee, and other liberals in contributing to 'The Struggle for Art,' a symposium published by Piper in Munich in answer to Carl Vinnen's 'Protest of German Artists' against the "great importation of French art merchandise." That year Macke met Delaunay, while Feininger, just back from Paris, met Delaunay and Klee.

Among the artists of the future Blue Rider group about 1910, we find a consistent, decorative, linear treatment, emphasizing broad, lambent color areas, and a gentle Romanticism. In this may still be included Kandinsky himself, his friend Gabriele Münter, Alexei von Jawlensky and his friend Marianne von Werefkin, August Macke, Franz Marc, and others with whom they were in contact. Their common heritage from the Jugendstil and their work together at Murnau near Munich, where Gabriele Münter kept a kind of open house for artists, helped toward this similarity, as did the increasing influence of decorative Fauvism.

Within the NKV itself differences had been developing, some personal and others aesthetic. These reached a head in the jurying of the third NKV exhibition in 1911 with a split into two groups, one led by Kandinsky and Marc, the other by Erbslöh (the secretary) and Kanoldt. Kandinsky's increasing nonobjectivism seems to have been the issue, and he left the organization accompanied by Marc and Gabriele Münter, while Jawlensky and Werefkin sympathized openly.

The energetic Marc immediately planned a counterexhibition, and two weeks later they opened (December 18, 1911) at the Thannhauser Gallery, where the NKV was showing, as the First Exhibition of the Editorial Board of the Blue Rider. This by now historic exhibition lasted until the beginning of January 1912 and included forty-three pictures by the following artists: Kandinsky, Marc, Macke Campendonk, Delaunay, Miinter, Henri Rousseau, the two Burliuks, the composer Arnold Schönberg, the animal painter Jean Niestlé who was a friend of Marc ( Marc, Niestlé, and Campendonk were then all staying at Sindelsdorf in Bavaria), and a number of lesser figures. Klee apparently had no paintings ready for this show but joined them a few months later in a graphic exhibition at the Goltz Gallery in Munich. Once more, outsiders were added; the catalogue of three hundred and fifteen works carried the names of twenty-five additional artists from Die Brüke, the New Secession, and the Moderne Bund, as well as various Frenchmen and Russians. Among the supporting names were Arp, Braque, Derain, de la Fresnaye, Heckel, Kirchner, Klee, Kubin, Malevich, Otto Mueller, Nolde, Pechstein, Picasso, Vlaminck, and about a dozen lesser Russians, Frenchmen, and Germans.

Within a week or so of its closing in Munich, the Blue Rider exhibition was shown at the Gereonsklub in Cologne. Again, in the middle of March 1912, it was presented by Herwarth Walden who had been publishing the avant-garde newspaper 'Der Sturm' since 1910 and who had just founded an organization of the same name in Berlin to publish and exhibit modern material of all kinds. This was actually a more rounded presentation, since he added works by Klee, Kubin, Jawlensky, and Werefkin.

The epoch-making Sonderbund exhibition in Cologne in 1912 also included works by Kandinsky, Marc, and Macke, although Marc withdrew his own works in protest against the selection. Karl-Ernst Osthaus took the original Blue Rider show for his Folkwang Museum at Hagen in July 1912. From there the show went to the Goldschmidt Gallery in Frankfurt in September.

The last joint appearance of the Blue Rider group was at Walden's German Salon d'Automne in 1913, which featured nonfigurative art (here they were joined by Feininger). The traveling exhibitions of 'Der Sturm' did much to spread the newly evolved gospel of intuitively abstract painting, this self-named Expressionism.

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