Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Art Heroes: Gabriele Münter (Vitreous Painting on Glass)

Portrait of Gabriele Münter, 8 x 10", Vitreous painting on glass

Biography: Gabriele Münter 1877-1962

Despite being raised in a family and country that discouraged women from developing a career in art, Gabriele Münter became a founding member of one of the most influential early-twentieth century modernist movements: German Expressionism.
Born in Berlin to upper-middle-class Protestant parents, Münter began drawing as a child. Because women were not allowed to enroll in the official German academies, she received private lessons and attended classes at the local Women Artist’s School. Dissatisfied with its curriculum, Münter began attending Munich's progressive new Phalanx School, where she studied sculpture and woodcut techniques as well as painting. In 1902, Münter began a twelve-year professional and personal relationship with the Phalanx School’s director, the Russian painter, Wassily Kandinsky. Together they traveled through Europe and North Africa and in 1908, fell in love with the picturesque village of Murnau in the lake district of southern Germany. Münter later bought a house there, where she spent much of her life. The following year, Münter helped establish the Munich-based avant-garde group Neue Künstlervereinigung (New Artists’ Association), and in 1911 she, Kandinsky, and several other artists left that group to form Der Blaue Reiter (the Blue Rider), an important Expressionist organization.
During World War I, Münter and Kandinsky went to Switzerland, but, as a Russian national, Kandinsky was considered an enemy alien, so he returned to Moscow in 1914. Shortly thereafter, Kandinsky obtained a divorce from his first wife and, instead of marrying Münter, in 1916, he wed Nina Andreyevskaya, whom he had met Russia. Münter never saw him again.
After a period of relative artistic inactivity, Münter, who by then was back in Germany, returned to painting seriously in the late 1920s. Despite the limitations imposed on her as a radical artist working during the Nazi era, Münter continued producing landscapes, portraits, still lifes, and interior scenes in a vividly colored, highly stylized manner, similar to the one she had developed early in her career (National Museum for Women in the Arts).

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