The Lenbachhaus has the world’s largest collection of works by the Blue Rider artists, who were leading pioneers of classic modernism. Founded by Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc, Gabriele Münter, Alexej von Jawlensky, and Marianne von Werefkin, the group developed an increasingly abstract visual language; unified by the artists' shared belief in a "spiritual" dimension of art, it accommodated diverse formal modes of expression. A tour of the galleries sheds light on the evolution of the artists' work from the nascent modernism of Kandinsky's and Münter's early oil studies to the landscapes from Murnau and iconic paintings in luminous colors such as Franz Marc's "Blue Horse I" and "The Tiger."
The Blue Rider mounted its first exhibition at Galerie Thannhauser, Munich, in the winter of 1911. The show also included works by newcomers to the circle of friends such as August Macke and Heinrich Campendonk. A second exhibition, held at Galerie Goltz, Munich, in the spring of 1912, was larger still, with contributions by Paul Klee, Alfred Kubin, and others. Ample selections of works by all these artists can be seen in our presentation of art from our Blue Rider collection.
One gallery is dedicated to Kandinsky's famous large paintings. The gallery with works by Paul Klee was redesigned after the conclusion of an amicable settlement with the heirs of the former owners of the painting "Swamp Legend" (1919). The adjoining cabinet displays a survey of the different periods in Alexej von Jawlensky's oeuvre; among the highlights on view here are the rarely-seen paintings "The Hunchback" and "Seated Nude."
Other galleries combine examples of Art Nouveau and selections from Kandinsky's early oeuvre such as "Couple Riding" with works by Gabriele Münter, August Macke, Franz Marc, and Heinrich and Ada Campendonk. August Macke's lively small-format "Self-Portrait," acquired by the museum in 2017, makes its public debut. Iconic examples of the mature oeuvres of Franz Marc, including "Blue Horse" and "The Tiger," and August Macke, including "Milliner's Shop" and "Turkish Café," are gathered in another cabinet.
A sampling of works from the museum’s post-Expressionism and New Objectivity collections is on display in the large skylight hall. Some of these treasures created by German and international artists between 1918 and the 1940s had not been on view in many years. They exemplarily reflect the period’s unusually wide range of visual idioms and thematic concerns.