Franz Marc, Der Tiger, 1912, Oil on canvas, 111 x 101 cm.

Franz Marc, Kühe, Gelb-Rot-Grün, 1912, Oil on canvas, 62 x 87.5 cm.

Der Blaue Reiter, Characterized by Great Realism and Great Abstraction

Gabriele Münter, Jawlensky und Werefkin, 1908 / 1909, oil on board, 32.7 x 44.5 cm.

Gabriele Münter, Zuhören (Bildnis Jawlensky), 1909, Oil on board, 49.7 x 66.2cm, © Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, München.

Wassily Kandinsky, Große Studie zum Wandbild für Erwin R. Campbell, 1914, Oil on canvas, 99 x 59.2 cm.

August Macke, Promenade, 1913, Oil on board, 51 x 57 cm.

Alexej von Jawlensky, Bildnis des Tänzers Alexander Sacharoff, 1909, Oil on board, 69.5 x 66.5 cm.

Alexej von Jawlensky, Liebe, 1925, Oil on board, 59 x 49.5 cm.

Franz Marc, Blaues Pferd I, 1911, oil on canvas, 112 x 84,5cm.


Museum Frieder Burda
Lichtentaler Allee 8 b
Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider)
June 27, 2009-November 8, 2009

The Blue Rider movement emerged from the former group of artists Neue Künstlervereinigung München (New Artist’s Association of Munich), its first exhibition at the Gallery Thannhauser in Munich in 1911 was creating a stir. Apart from the Die Brücke in Dresden, the Blue Rider was the most important German group of artists of the 20th century.

The movement included among others the painters Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc, August Macke, Gabriele Münter, Alexej von Jawlensky and Paul Klee. Der Blaue Reiter almanac, edited and published in 1911 by Kandinsky and Marc, presented the movement’s artistic synthesis: “Without any stylistic restrictions, the most diverse manifestations of creativity have been included, featuring recent international avant-garde works as well as examples of primitive and folk art, children’s drawings as well as art by non-professionals. Another major role is attributed to New Music.”

For Kandinsky, “great realism” and “great abstraction” were equivalent. We therefore find a wide range of stylistic approaches and artistic expressions among the painters of the Blue Rider. During his time in Munich until 1914, Kandinsky himself chose the way toward abstraction. His development from early studies of nature to a more representational style is perfectly represented in the collection of the Lenbachhaus.

His counterpart was Franz Marc, who, in his paintings, was seeking to reconcile nature and creature. Helmut Friedel: “Around the year 1910, Marc’s animal studies were set free from the restrictions of pure representation and became sheer color events. But also Gabriele Münter, August Macke, Alexej von Jawlensky and Paul Klee developed individual artistic expressions, though expressionist landscapes were prevailing.”

Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), Museum Frieder Burda's major summer exhibition, includes around 100 masterpieces from the collection of the Lenbachhaus in Munich, comprising outstanding paintings such as Blue Horse I by Franz Marc from 1911, Meditation by Alexej von Jawlensky from 1918, Jawlensky and Werefkin by Gabriele Münter from 1909 and Promenade by August Macke from 1913. “It is the most extensive selection of Blue Rider paintings we have ever lent,” says Helmut Friedel, director of the Municipal Gallery in the Lenbachhaus.

Baden-Baden owes this exhibition to the close relationship that Frieder Burda maintains with the Municipal Gallery in the Lenbachhaus in Munich. For many years, the Baden-Baden art collector has been lending numerous paintings of his own collection, including a great many works by Gerhard Richter, to the Lenbachhaus. Since the Lenbachhaus is scheduled to close for the following three years because of extensive construction and renovation works, director Helmut Friedel is sending his internationally renowned paintings to the venue in Baden-Baden. During the renovation period, Baden-Baden is the only German venue for exhibition of the Lenbachhaus paintings.

Helmut Friedel, curator of the exhibition, on the Baden-Baden museum: “The Museum Frieder Burda is embedded in nature and offers fantastic sights on the surrounding park. It is going to be the ideal venue for the Blue Rider paintings, mirroring the mostly close-to-nature motifs of this movement.” He also says that the Baden-Baden exhibition is much more than a simple transfer of paintings from one location to another. “The concept of the Baden-Baden show is based on intensive research on the mutual friendship and regular encounters between the painters. This is also the reason why we lend the painting Portrait of the dancer Alexander Sacharoff by Alexej von Jawlensky for the first time ever,” says Friedel. The painting is extremely fragile and won’t be on display at other exhibitions.The same restriction applies to Franz Marc’s Blue Horse, one of the highlights of the Lenbachhaus collection. Though usually no longer available for loan, it is going to be on display in Baden-Baden.

Moreover, the exhibition comprises many portraits of Blue Rider painters. The members of the movement regularly painted each other, depicting events and situations of their own life and transporting the intimate relationship of the group. Thus, the show allows the visitor to simultaneously contemplate the artistic as well as the private life of the painters.

This intimate character of the exhibition is increased by the display of 60 photographs by Gabriele Münter, depicting scenes from trips to Tunisia or Italy, life in Murnau as well as private pictures. Though the photographs are mostly private pics, they are nevertheless of great artistic value. No other group of artists has been that well documented in photograph. They provide an invaluable testimony of the history and development of the movement “Der Blaue Reiter” and of Münter’s and Kandinsky’s relationship between 1902 and 1914.

Helmut Friedel emphasizes the intensive cooperation between the Municipal Gallery in the Lenbachhaus and the Museum Frieder Burda. Friedel: “I am convinced the our two houses will continue to maintain this close relationship in the future.”

In 1957, Gabriele Münter celebrated her 80th birthday by donating her large collection of own works as well as works by Kandinsky and other Blue Rider painters to the Lenbachhaus in Munich. Today, the Lenbachhaus houses the worldwide most extensive collection of paintings of the Blue Rider. Frieder Burda says: “In Baden-Baden, we feel flattered to host these masterpieces in the Richard-Meier-designed museum building. A long-cherished wish is coming true.”

A comprehensive exhibition catalogue of approximately 224 pages and numerous color prints are available. The catalogue is edited by Helmut Friedel with texts by Annegret Hoberg and Matthias Mühling, prefaces by Frieder Burda and Helmut Friedel.

August Macke, Hutladen, 1913, Oil on canvas, 54.5 x 44 cm.

Wassily Kandinsky, Friedhof und Pfarrhaus in Kochel, 1910, Oil on board, 44.4 x 32.7 cm.

Alexej von Jawlensky, Spanierin, 1913, Oil on board, 67 x 48.5 cm.

Wassily Kandinsky, Große Studie zum Wandbild für Erwin R. Campbell, 1914, Oil on canvas, 99 x 59.2 cm.

August Macke, Türkisches Café, 1914, Oil on wood, 60 x 35 cm.

Wassily Kandinsky, Friedhof und Pfarrhaus in Kochel, 1910, Oil on board, 44.4 x 32.7 cm.


Alexej von Jawlensky, Reife, about 1912, Oil on board, 53,5 x 49,5 cm.