Gabriele Münter

German painter (1877-1962)

Gabriele Münter (19 February 1877 – 19 May 1962) was a German expressionist painter who participated in the Munich artist-group Der Blaue Reiter in the early 20th century. She lived and worked in Murnau with Kandinsky till his forced depart in 1914. She continued painting in her colorful figurative style, mainly the landscapes around Murnau.

photo of Gabriele Muenter, circa 1900

Quotes of Gabriele Münter edit

chronologically ordered, after date of the quotes of Gabriele Münter
'Gabriele Münter, painting', by Kandinsky in 1903
'Portrait of Gabriele Münter', by Kandinsky in 1905
The Münter Haus in Murnau, where Gabriele lived and painted untill her death (with Kandinsky till 1914 - then he left because of the starting war). Now the house is a museum [1]

  • Our sketchbooks and studies – as well as the paintings and photos, convey the detail of our [Gabriele with Kandinsky, 1905] Tunisian impressions. At times we got along well – at times not at all – we took walks in the city and also in the Belvedere park – it was never boring with my beloved [ Kandinsky ], but we didn't made contact with any other people; he never wanted it.
    • Quote of Gabriele Münter in her 'Memoir entries' for 1905; as cited by Roger Benjamin, Cristina Ashjian, in Kandinsky and Klee in Tunisia; Univ. of California Press, 18 Aug 2015
  • As I came to Munich in 1901 it was in a period of great artistic renewal. Jugendstil began in its way to attack the old naturalism and to cultivate the qualities of pure line.
    • as quoted in Kandinsky, Frank Whitford, Paul Hamlyn Ltd, London 1967, p. 11
  • After a short period of agony, I took a great leap forward from copying nature, in a more or less impressionist style, to feeling the content of things.
    • as quoted in the text of the exhibition 'Kandinsky and der Blaue Reiter', Gemeentemuseum the Hague, Netherlands; February-June, 2010
    • Gabriele refers to the big change she made, before the period of her first Murnau landscape paintings (c. 1904 - 1914), when she lived and worked together with Kandinsky].
  • ..the rejection of impressionistic copies of nature and a move towards sensing the content, abstraction, – expressing the extract..
    • as quoted in the exposition-text 'Alexej von Jawlensky', Museum Boymans-van-Beuningen Rotterdam; 25/9 – 27/ 11-1994, p. 21
    • this quote of Gabriele Münter was the leading idea for her early painting during the period she worked with Kandinsky in and around Murnau..

Interview by Edouard Roditi (1958) edit

Quotes of Gabriele Münter, from: Interview by Edouard Roditi in 1958; as cited in Dialogues – conversations with European Artists at Mid-century Gabriele Münter, Edouard Roditi, Lund Humphries Publishers Ltd, London, 1990
  • When I came to the United States [in 1898], I filled my sketchbook with drawings, very much as any educated girl of my generation might have kept a diary.. .My American sketches were private notations of visual experiences which I wanted to fix on paper as a personal 'memento'.
    • p. 114
  • As a child, I devoted much of my leisure to drawing sketches of relatives and friends, familiar sights and scenes, a view that suddenly moved me or appealed to me. I always concentrated on depicting nature as I saw or felt it, in terms of lines, and obtaining a kind of psychological likeness which would convey the personality of my model or the mood of the moment.
    • p. 114
  • We [ Kandinsky and Gabriele] came here [in Murnau, near Munich] together, on a brief visit, for the first time in 1908, in June, and we were both delighted with the town and its surroundings. In August, we then returned to Murnau for two months, with Jawlensky and Marianne Werefkin.. ..Kandinsky fell in love with it [with the house in Murnau where Gabriele lived, till 1962] and said: 'You must buy it for our old age'. So I bought it and we then made it our home until he returned to Russia in 1914. Jawlensky and Marianne [Werefkin] used to stay with us here, and the people of Murnau called it: 'The House of the Russians' [only Gabriele Münter was German, of the four artists here mentioned]
    • p. 115
  • I met him Kandinsky shortly after my return to Germany from the United States. At first, I lived for a while in Bonn.. .A year later, in 1901, I decided to move to Munich, but still found very little encouragement as an artist. German painters refused to believe that a woman could have real talent, and I was even denied access, as a student, to the Munich Academy.. .It is significant that the first Munich artist who took the trouble to encourage me was Kandinsky, himself no German but a recent arrival from Russia.
    • p. 115-116
  • As a student of Franz von Stück he Kandinsky still continued for a while to paint quite naturalistically. He admitted to me that he had always loved color, even as a child, far more than subject matter. Form and color were his main interests. To me he often remarked that 'objects disturb me'. But he could paint portraits, too.
    • p. 116
  • He Kandinsky had always expressed a great interest in abstraction when we visited Tunisia together in 1904. The Moslem interdiction of representational painting seemed to stir his imagination and that was when I first heard him say that objects disturbed him. Between 1907 and 1910 [the period in which Kandinsky painted his first abstract compositions], he began to rely increasingly on his own theories of art, which many of his friends could understand only with great difficulty.
    • p. 117
  • They [Kandinsky, Jawlensky and Paul Klee ] were constantly arguing about art and each of them, at first, had his own ideas and his own style. Jawlensky was far less intellectual than Kandinsky or Klee and was often frankly puzzled by their theories. My 1908 portrait entitled 'Zuhören' ('Listening') actually represents Jawlensky, with an expression of puzzled astonishment on his chubby face, listening to Kandinsky's new theories of art.
    • p. 117
  • As far as I am concerned, I learned this technique [the use of flat areas, painted in bright color - sometimes in contrasting juxtaposition, sometimes like pieces of colored glass in heavy dark outlines] from Kandinsky and, at the same time, from the glass paintings of the Bavarian peasants of the Murneau area, who had painted for centuries in this style.
    • p. 117
  • Each of us [the Der Blaue Reiter (Blue Rider) artists] was interested in the work of the other members of our group, much as each of us was also interested in the health and happiness of the others. But we were still far from considering ourselves as a group or a school of art.. .I don't think we were ever as programmatic in out theories, as competitive or a self-assertive, as some of the modern [art] schools of Paris.
    • p. 117
  • But we had no contact with the painters of the Dachau and Worpswede School [where a. o. Paula Modersohn-Becker was settled as starting woman artist]. It was only much later, for instance, that we discovered that Hoelzel had already been experimenting with non-objective compositions as early as 1908. We [the Blaue Reiter artists] were only a group of friends who shared a common passion for painting as a form of self-expression.
    • p. 117
  • I have now forgotten who was responsible for the original idea (the publication of the Almanac 'Der Blaue Reiter'], perhaps because I have never been particularly interested in theory.. .The 'Neue Künstlerverein' [in Münich] didn't approve of Kandinsky's ideas in 1911 and rejected his Composition No. 5. as too big for their show. So Kandinsky withdrew from the association, and Franz Marc, Kubín ], Le Fauconnier and I followed this lead. It was then that Kandinsky began to write the book that became 'Der Blaue Reiter'.
    • pp. 117-118
  • I think we were all more interested in being honest than in being modern. That's why there could be such great differences between the styles of the various members of our group.. .They had great faith in each other. I think that each of them knew that the other, as an artist, was absolutely honest. Whenever Kubín came to Munich from his nearby country retreat, they [Kandinsky and Kubin] spent many hours together, and I wish I had been able to take down in shorthand some of their conversations. Their ideas about art and life were so different.
    • p. 118
  • I was never interested in being just modern – I mean in creating a new style. I simply painted in whatever style seemed to suit me best. But Kandinsky was a thinker and had to express his ideas in words, so he constantly formulated new theories of art which he liked to discuss with Kubín, who was also a thinker..
    • p. 118
  • Kandinsky was an optimist; he had been interested, at first, in fairy tales and legends and chivalrous themes of the past, but he then became increasingly interested, after 1908, in formulating what he called the art of the future rather than indulging in romantic visions of the past. Kubin, on the other hand was a pessimist, always haunted by the past and suspicious of the future. This basic difference in their temperaments made their discussions all the more fruitful, and their friendship was the more intense.
    • p. 118
  • I don't think that Kandinsky was ever really a communist. He just happened to be in Russia [Kandinsky went to Russia in 1914, because of the outbreak of the war, ànd his Russsian nationality] and to become involved in some revolutionary artistic activities because of his reputation as a revolutionary in the arts. In any case, he left Russia as soon as an opportunity arose. But we had parted, by that time, and I prefer not to express any opinion on Kandinsky's later ideas and beliefs, with which I was never familiar.
    • pp. 118-119
  • Yes, we [ Marianne Werefkin and Gabriéle] shared very much the same tastes and ideas, when we lived together in this house (the so-called 'Russian house' in Murnau]. She was extremely perceptive and intelligent, but Jawlensky [living with Marianne Werefkin] didn't always approve her work.. .Suddenly Jawlensky would pick on some tiny detail of one of Marianne's best and most original pictures and exclaim: 'That patch of color, there, is laid on much too flat and smoothly. It's just like old Riepin' [famous Russian painter Ilya Repin ] and their common former teacher in Russia]. Of course it was nonsense and he was only saying it to annoy her. But Jawlensky really was a devotee of the 'touche de peinture' of the French Fauvists, rather than an innovator, a believer in a new kind of art of the future.
    • pp. 118-119
  • They [Jawlensky and Münter] often lived here in our Murnau house. But Paul Klee and Franz Marc were also close friends, and August Macke, too, whenever he was in Munich.. .Klee was never as active a theorist, in those years, as Kandinsky or Marianne de Werefkin. Besides, it took Klee much longer to become a truly and conscious modern artist.. .As you can see in my portrait of Klee, which is painted in 1913 – I mean the one where he is seen seated in one of the rooms here downstairs and wearing white summer slacks – he is not very communicative. That is why I depicted him all hunched up and tense, as if he were constraining some mainspring within himself. In my eyes, it was almost a portrait of silence rather than of Klee, and for many years it no longer occurred to me that he had been my model. But Klee was always a close friend of ours, and Kandinsky and I had great confidence in his talent and his future.
    • p. 120
  • Well, when we [Kandinsky and Gabriéle Münter] first met, Munich was still very much a center of plein-air painting [painting in open air], and Kandinsky himself was a plain-air painter too, to some extent. We used to go out sketching and painting together in the countryside [around Murnau], and he painted a picture of me sketching, and I also did one of him [on board in oil]. That was a long time ago in 1903. It was only some ten years later, when he painted his first 'Improvisations' that he began to work exclusively in his studio.
    • p. 120
  • You [the interviewer Edouard Roditi, in 1958] have probably understood that I had always been mainly a plain-air painter, though I also painted portraits and still-life compositions. At first I experienced great difficulty with my brushwork – I mean with that the French call 'la touche de pinceau'. So Kandinsky taught me how to achieve the effects that I wanted with a palette knife. In the view from my window in Sèvres, that I painted in 1906, when we were together in France, you can see how well he taught me. Later of course, here in Murnau, I learned to handle brushes, too, but I managed this by following Kandinsky's example, first with a palette knife, than with brushes.
    • p. 120
  • My main difficulty was that I could not paint fast enough. My pictures are all moments of my life – I mean instantaneous visual experiences, generally noted very rapidly and spontaneously. When I begin to paint, it's like leaping suddenly into deep waters, and I never know beforehand whether I will be able to swim. Well, it was Kandinsky who taught me the technique of swimming. I mean that he taught me to work fast enough, and with enough self-assurance, to be able to achieve this kind of rapid and spontaneous recording of moments of life.
    • p. 120
  • In 1908, for instance, when I painted my 'Blue Mountain', I had learned the trick. It came to me as easily and naturally as song to a bird. After that, I worked more and more on my own. When Kandinsky became increasingly interested in abstract art, I also tried my hand, of course, at a few improvisations of the same general nature as his. But I believe I had developed a figurative style of my own, or at least one that suited my temperament, and I have remained faithful to it ever since, with occasional short holidays in the realm of abstraction.
    • pp. 120 –121
  • ..we parted in 1914, when Kandinsky, being an enemy alien [because of his Russian nationality], had to flee from Germany to Switzerland, as did Jawlensky and Marianne de Werefkin too [to neutral Switzerland]. ..Ever since we parted in 1914, I have worked mainly by myself. After the First World War, here in Munich, we found that our Blue Rider group had broken up. Franz Marc and Macke had both been killed [in World War 1.] Kandinsky, Jawlensky and Marianne were no longer here; Bloch and Burliuk were in America. Those of us who were still in Munich remained friends, of course, but each one of us had learned to work by himself rather than in a group. Besides.. ..we had always been individualists and our Blue Rider group never had a style of its own as uniform as that of the Paris cubists.
    • p. 121

undated quotes edit

  • That [her lessons with Kandinsky] was a new artistic experience; Kandinsky was quite unlike the other teachers, and explained things thoroughly and penetratingly and regarded me as a human being with conscious aspirations, capable of setting myself targets to aim for. It was new to me and impressed me.

Quotes about Gabriele Münter edit

chronologically ordered, after date of the quotes about Gabriele Münter
  • We can only assert here, with especial satisfaction, that Gabriele Münters talent, robust, rooted in an inward strength and sensitivity, in fact genuinely German, should in no circumstances be assessed as masculin, or as 'quasi-masculine'. This talent – and we emphasize it, once more, with great satisfaction – can only be described as exclusively and purely feminine.. .Gabriele Münter doesn't paint feminine subjects, she does not work with feminine materials, and does not permit herself any feminine coquetry. Their are neither raptures, nor agreeable exterior elegance, nor appealing weaknesses to be found here.
    • Quote of Wassily Kandinsky, 1913; in the introduction of an exhibition-catalog 'Neue Künstlervereinigung', Munich; as cited by de:Wolf-Dieter Dube, in Expressionism; Praeger Publishers, New York, 1973, p. 119-120
  • Nor, on the other hand, are there any masculine charms [in Gabriele Münter's work] either: no 'sinewy brushwork', no heaps of paint, 'hurled on to the canvas'. The pictures are painted throughout with a delicately and correctly sensed measure of external strength, with not a trace of feminine or masculine coquetry in the 'making'. We could almost say that they are painted modestly; i. e. that they were inspired, not by a desire for outward display, but by a purely inward compulsion.
    • Quote of Wassily Kandinsky, 1913; in the introduction of an exhibition-catalog 'Neue Künstlervereinigung', Munich; as cited by de:Wolf-Dieter Dube, in Expressionism; Praeger Publishers, New York, 1973, p. 120
  • Suddenly I felt that my old dream was closer to coming true. You know that I dreamt of painting a big picture expressing joy, the happiness of life and the universe. Suddenly I feel the harmony of colors and forms that come from this world of joy.
    • Quote of Kandinsky, in a letter to Gabriele Münter, June 1916 [2 years after their depart]; as cited in Wassily Kandinsky, 1866–1944: The Journey to Abstraction, lrike Becks-Malorny, [Cologne: Taschen, 1999], p. 118
  • Her Impressionistic paintings of 1906-07, painted with the palette-knife, do indeed have considerable similarities to Kandinsky's work of the same period, but the decisive artistic influence on her was Jawlensky.
    • Quote of de:Wolf-Dieter Dube, in Expressionism; Praeger Publishers, New York, 1973, p. 122
    • Kandinsky and Münter frequently painted together landscape in and around Murnau those years, and often also with Jawlensky and Marian Werefkin.

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