The Blue Rider

Neue Künstlerverinigung and Dissociation




After the fruitful summer Kandinsky, Münter, Jawlensky, and Werefkin spent painting in Murnau in 1908, the discussions about art among the circle of progressively minded artist friends who met regularly in Jawlensky and Werefkin’s salon in Schwabing grew more heated. In January 1909, they decided to found an association they called the Neue Künstlervereinigung München (short NKVM, New Artists‘ Association Munich). Besides Kandinsky, Jawlensky, Münter, and Werefkin, its founding members included Adolf Erbslöh, Alexander Kanoldt, and Alfred Kubin as well as Paul Baum, Wladimir Bechtejeff, Erma Bossi, Mossej Kogan, and the dancer Alexander Sacharoff. Until 1911, the NKVM held annual exhibitions at Galerie Thannhauser, Munich, although the reviews in the press were scathing. On occasion of the group’s second show, in 1910, Franz Marc publicly took their side, which led to his personal acquaintance with them, and he became a member of the club as well. Kandinsky and Marc soon formed closer ties and increasingly found themselves at odds with the group’s moderate members. In 1911, they made plans to publish an art almanac that would bear the title Der Blaue Reiter, or The Blue Rider.

The tensions within the NKVM proved irreconcilable in December 1911, when the jury of the group’s third exhibition rejected an almost completely abstract painting by Kandinsky. He, Marc, and Münter resigned from the NKVM and quickly organized their own show, remembered today as the legendary first exhibition of the ‘Blauer Reiter.’ The new association now united the artistic energies of this important innovative movement within German Expressionism; the remaining NKVM, meanwhile, dissolved within a year.