The Blue Rider

Exhibitions and the Almanach




After resigning from the Neue Künstlervereinigung München, Kandinsky, Marc, and Münter presented the first exhibition of the Blue Rider at Galerie Thannhauser, Munich, in December 1911. The show featured around fifty works by the organizers and likeminded artist friends: by Albert Bloch, David and Wladimir Burljuk, Heinrich Campendonk, Robert Delaunay, Elisabeth Epstein, Eugen von Kahler, Wassily Kandinsky, August Macke, Franz Marc, Gabriele Münter, Jean Bloé Niestlé, Henri Rousseau, and Arnold Schönberg. The extensive second Blue Rider exhibition was on display at Hans Goltz’s gallery from February to April 1912; it consisted solely of works on paper and included contributions by Paul Klee and Alfred Kubin as well. After lengthy planning, the almanac Der Blaue Reiter came out in May 1912. In numerous plates, the book presented works of art from different eras and genres — Old Masters, avant-garde works, and “primitive,” including non-European, art —side by side. With this selection, it vividly illustrated an anti-academic, open-minded, international, and tolerant vision. Painters, composers, and critics from different nations wrote contributions in which they articulated the goals of this new art. Kandinsky’s and Marc’s statements, in particular, express their shared belief in the “spiritual in art,” and it is this distinctly philosophical element that sets the Blue Rider apart from other movements within Expressionism. These were the primary activities of the group, which may be more properly described as a loose circle of artists with a pluralistic profile. Jawlensky and Werefkin, who had not initially joined the breakaway faction leaving the NKVM, contributed works to the subsequent touring exhibitions of the Blue Rider starting in 1912; the Berlin-based gallery operator Herwarth Walden took a leading role in organizing these shows, which introduced audiences throughout Central Europe and Scandinavia to the Blue Rider.