Gabriele Münter

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Wassily Kandinsky: Portrait of Gabriele Münter , 1905, Lenbachhaus , Munich

Gabriele Münter (* 19th February 1877 in Berlin , † 19th May 1962 in Murnau ) was a painter of Expressionism , next she drew and worked in the field of printmaking . She was a member of the Neue Künstlervereinigung München (NKVM) and later closely associated with the Blue Rider . As Wassily Kandinsky's long-term partner , she later saved a significant part of his works through the war and post-war period and made them accessible to the public, along with pictures by the artist friends of the Blauer Reiter and her own pictures.


Childhood and youth

Gabriele Münter, 1900

Gabriele Münter was born in Berlin on February 19, 1877, the youngest of four children of the dentist Carl Münter and his wife Wilhelmine. A year later the family moved to Herford in Westphalia , then to Koblenz . Her father died in 1886. Together with two siblings, Gabriele Münter grew up with their withdrawn mother without much education; a circumstance to which she later attributed her awkwardness in dealing with other people. Her artistic talent had already shown in her school days. Then in spring 1897 she began attending Willy Spatz's women's art school in Düsseldorf (the state academies were still closed to women in art ). However, when her mother also died in November, she gave up training again. Financially independent through her parental inheritance, she and her sister went to visit relatives in the USA the following year. For two years the sisters traveled through Missouri , Arkansas and Texas ; Gabriele Münter documented the journey through a large number of photos.

Education, relationship with Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky, around 1913
Wassily Kandinsky: Portrait Gabriele Münter , 1903, Lenbachhaus , Munich

In 1901 Gabriele Münter moved to Munich . At that time, however, women were not yet accepted into the local art academy. Münter therefore continued her studies at the painting school of the Artists' Association , where she first studied in the classes of Maximilian Dasio and Angelo Jank and then switched to Wilhelm Hüsgens and Waldemar Hecker's small, progressive art school " Phalanx ", where Wassily Kandinsky also worked . In 1902 Kandinsky moved to Kochel am See for a few weeks to paint landscapes with his students . Gabriele Münter had not previously dealt intensively with open-air painting. So this was her first exercise in the field. While he was painting in Kallmünz in the summer of 1903 , Kandinsky became engaged to Münter, although he was still married. The liaison remained hidden from the other participants in the painting school. Kandinsky was her teacher for a year; then the school closed, but Kandinsky remained, married until 1911, Münter's lover, with whom she lived openly. The two made numerous trips together, e.g. B. to Tunisia , the Netherlands , Italy and France .

During their first stay in Paris in 1906/1907, Münter remained unaffected by modern French painting and continued to paint “in the post-impressionist style”. She reports about it: "When I was in Sèvres with K. [Andinsky] in 1906-07, K. [Andinsky] didn't look for Matisse, Picasso or the other greats." She made numerous woodcuts and linocuts, over a quarter of her graphic work was created. After their return to Munich in 1908, Münter and Kandinsky set off for Lana in South Tyrol, where both still painted late impressionist open-air studies in rather small formats.

Murnau and the "New Artists' Association Munich"

After returning to Munich from Lana, the couple found a letter from Marianne von Werefkin , who was staying with Alexej Jawlensky in Murnau . They were asked by Werefkin to join them in the countryside at the Staffelsee. This resulted in a meaningful collaboration between the two artist couples. “Under the stylistic and technical influence of Werefkin and Jawlensky”, Münter and Kandinsky were “inspired” to make that “great leap from painting nature, more or less impressionistically, to feeling content, abstracting, giving an extract”, which Münter spoke of. In a short time, Münter developed through his far more progressive painting colleagues into one of the most important German expressionist painters alongside Paula Modersohn-Becker .

Münter's house in Murnau

After their first stay in Murnau together, the relationship between the two painter couples may have deteriorated for a short time. There is a lot to suggest, because at Christmas 1908 Werefkin, Jawlensky, Adolf Erbslöh and Oscar Wittenstein came up with the idea of ​​creating the New Munich Artists' Association (NKVM) in the Werefkin's “pink salon”. In any case, Münter and Kandinsky were initially not involved in the project. Kandinsky was still annoyed about this years later.

In 1909, Münter acquired a house in Murnau on Kottmüllerallee, which is still popularly known today as the Münter House or "Russenhaus". Münter and Kandinsky lived and worked there in the summer months until 1914, provided they were not in Munich or traveling. During this time they received many visitors, collectors, critics and painter friends, Werefkin and Jawlensky, Franz Marc , August Macke and the composer Arnold Schönberg .

The blue Rider

When there were more and more inconsistencies in the NKVM, which were sparked by Kandinsky's increasingly abstract painting - he was required to have "works that were as understandable as possible" - Kandinsky resigned the chairmanship of the NKVM in January 1911, but remained a member of the association. In June he developed plans for his own activities outside the NKVM. He intended to publish a “kind of almanac”. He won Marc over to participate by offering him the joint editing of the book Der Blaue Reiter . In the summer, Kandinsky and Marc decided to split off from the NKVM. They secretly prepared their own exhibition for the coming winter as a counter-exhibition to that of the NKVM. Macke was a confidante. Kandinsky painted the legendary abstract painting with the meaningful title “The Last Judgment / Composition V”, which, due to its size of over five square meters, according to the statutes of the NKVM, could not be exhibited without a jury. Münter was privy to the intrigue from the start, as is evident from a letter from Kandinsky on August 6, 1911. At that time he reported to Münter about the status of the preliminary work: I paint and paint now. Lots of sketches for the Last Judgment. But I am dissatisfied with everything. But I have to find out how to do it! Only patience. On December 2nd, the picture was presented to the jury and, as Kandinsky intended and expected, failed. Pretending to “protest”, Kandinsky, Münter and Marc left the NKVM

On December 18, 1911, the first exhibition of the Der Blaue Reiter editorial team was opened in the modern gallery Thannhauser in Munich, in which at the same time the NKVM, which had shrunk to eight participants, showed its third and last exhibition.

Separation from Kandinsky

After the First World War began in 1914, Gabriele Münter fled to Switzerland with Kandinsky. This was called an "enemy alien" and returned to Russia . From 1915 to 1920, Münter lived in Scandinavia . In 1916 there was a last meeting with Kandinsky in Stockholm . But from 1917 Kandinsky refused to have any contact with Münter. Only years later did she find out that that year he had married Nina Andreevskaja .

Later years

Münter's and Eichner's grave site in Murnau

After separating from Kandinsky, she lived alternately in Cologne, Munich and Murnau from 1920. She was temporarily prevented from painting by severe nightmares and depression . After moving to Berlin in 1925 , she created female portraits in pencil, reduced to outline. In 1927 she met the philosopher and art historian Johannes Eichner (1886–1958).

In 1929/1930 a longer stay in Paris gave her work new impulses. In 1931 she moved to Murnau with Johannes Eichner as her second partner; There she mainly painted floral still lifes, but also numerous abstract studies. An exhibition ban by the National Socialists , who viewed their art as "degenerate" , forced them to retreat into private life in 1937.

After the Second World War , Münter was represented with nine works in a retrospective of the Blue Rider in Munich's Haus der Kunst in 1949 . From 1950 a complete exhibition of her work was shown in numerous German museums. In 1955 she was a participant in documenta 1 in Kassel . Gabriele Münter was also a member of the German Association of Artists , in whose annual exhibitions she took part in 1952 and 1960.

On her 80th birthday in 1957, she gave the city of Munich her collection, numerous works of her own, over 80 paintings by Kandinsky and works by other members of the Blue Rider , which made the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus world famous in one fell swoop. Gabriele Münter died in 1962, her partner Johannes Eichner had died in 1958. Their common grave is in the cemetery in Murnau.


In 1956 Münter received the promotional award for fine arts of the state capital Munich . She is the namesake of the Gabriele Münter Prize for female artists in the field of fine arts at the Bonn Women's Museum . Many municipalities have named streets after her, such as Cologne, Kleve, Leverkusen, Wiesbaden, Fulda, Nidderau, to name just a few.

As part of the series “ German Painting of the 20th Century ”, a 300-pfennig postage stamp from the Deutsche Bundespost with the motif A. von Jawlensky and M. von Werefkin appeared in 1994 on a meadow near Murnau .


Four years after Münter's death, in 1966, the Gabriele Münter and Johannes Eichner Foundation was established based on a will. As an independent institution, it is called upon to preserve and manage its estate.

The Münter House in Murnau, which belongs to the Foundation, is now a memorial site showing very personal work, including furniture and walls painted by Kandinsky and Münter, as well as collections of folk objects.

Münter and Japonism

No written evidence of Japanese culture has come down to us from Münter. Apparently, her estate does not provide any artistic objects on Japonism either . However, her prints and paintings make it clear that she was familiar with Japanese art from an early age. There are typically Japanese motifs and peculiarities that gave her inspiration for her own work. For example, since 1903/1904, like the Japanese, she used a clear frame for her woodcuts and linocuts . She produced her prints according to the "Japanese woodcut technique". Extreme portrait formats appear in her etchings in 1916.

As early as 1906 she used the “Japanese forced perspective” in her painting Allee in the Parc of Saint Cloud . When she drew and painted from 1908, during the Murnau period, together with Kandinsky, Jawlensky and von Werefkin in the Pfaffenwinkel , she came back to the “forced perspective”. She painted the picture Straight Street that led to Kochel am See three times . When she copied the first version, she wrote to Kandinsky: “But since I can't do it better, I copied it larger as accurately as possible but the small. Study is better. But I wanted to have it again. ”As far as the treatment of perspective is concerned, it was visibly based on Kandinsky's earlier version of the same motif. Stylistically, it followed Jawlensky's cloisonism .

Exhibitions (selection)

  • 1985: Gabriele Münter drawings and watercolors , Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus and Kunstbau, Munich
  • 1992: Gabriele Münter retrospective, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus and Kunstbau, Munich
  • 2000/2001: Gabriele Münter. The graphic work , Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus and Kunstbau, Munich
  • 2017/2018: Gabriele Münter. Painting without further ado , Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus and Kunstbau, Munich
  • 2017/2018: Gabriele Münter . Galerie Thomas, Munich

Important works in the art collections (selection)




  • Rosel Gollek: Gabriele Münter 1877–1962, paintings, drawings, reverse glass paintings and folk art from her possession. Exhibition catalog. Municipal gallery in the Lenbachhaus, Munich 1977.
  • Annegret Hoberg:  Münter, Gabriele. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 18, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1997, ISBN 3-428-00199-0 , p. 546 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Erich Pfeiffer-Belli: Gabriele Münter, drawings and watercolors. Berlin 1979.
  • Brigitte Salmen: Gabriele Münter paints Murnau, painting 1908–1960 by the artist of the “Blue Rider”. Exhibition catalog. Murnau Castle Museum, Murnau 1996.
  • Gisela Kleine: Gabriele Münter and the children's world. Insel, Frankfurt 1997, ISBN 3-458-33624-9 .
  • Rosel Gollek (introduction): Gabriele Münter, behind glass pictures. Piper, Munich / Zurich 1981, ISBN 3-492-02658-3 .
  • Karl-Egon Vester (Ed.): Gabriele Münter. Exhibition catalog. Kunstverein Hamburg, Hamburg 1988.
  • Gabriele Münter and her time. Painting of Classical Modernism in Germany. Exhibition catalog Galerie Neher Essen with works by Gabriele Münter, Erich Heckel, Carl Hofer, Alexej von Jawlensky, Wassily Kandinsky, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Paul Klee, August Macke, Franz Marc, Otto Mueller, Emil Nolde, Hermann Max Pechstein, Christian Rohlfs, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and Marianne von Werefkin. Essen 1990, ISBN 3-923806-14-0
  • Annegret Hoberg , Helmut Friedel (Eds.): Gabriele Münter 1877–1962. Retrospective. Municipal gallery in the Lenbachhaus, Munich 1992.
  • Annegret Hoberg: Wassily Kandinsky and Gabriele Münter in Murnau and Kochel 1902–1914, letters and memories. Prestel, Munich 1994, ISBN 3-7913-1348-7 .
  • Helmut Friedel (Ed.): Gabriele Münter. The graphic work. Prestel, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-7913-2514-0 (catalog of the exhibitions in the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, December 16, 2000 to April 16, 2001; August-Macke-Haus Bonn, April 29 to July 8 2001; Murnau Castle Museum, July 20 to November 4, 2001).
  • Brigitte Salmen: Wassily Kandinsky - Gabriele Münter, artist of the "Blue Rider" in Murnau. Murnau 2003.
  • Annegret Hoberg: Gabriele Münter. Prestel, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-7913-2953-7 .
  • Helmut Friedel (Ed.): Gabriele Münter - The Years with Kandinsky, Photographs 1902–1914. Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-8296-0288-4 .
  • Gisela Kleine: Gabriele Münter and Wassily Kandinsky. Biography of a couple. 8th edition. Insel, Frankfurt am Main 2008, ISBN 978-3-458-33311-1 .
  • Brigitte Salmen (ed.): 1908–2008, 100 years ago, Kandinsky, Münter, Jawlensky, Werefkin in Murnau. Schlossmuseum Murnau, Murnau 2008, ISBN 978-3-932276-29-3 (exhibition catalog).
  • Ingrid Mössinger and Thomas Friedrich (Eds.): Gabriele Münter. Paintings, reverse glass painting, works on paper - works in the Museum Gunzenhauser Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz with the Carlfriedrich Claus Archive Foundation, 2008–2009, ISBN 978-3-86678-216-7 (inventory catalog).
  • Brigitte Salmen (ed.): "... these tender, spirited fantasies ...", the painters of the "Blue Rider" and Japan. Exhibition catalog. Schloßmuseum, Murnau 2011, ISBN 978-3-932276-39-2 .
  • Gudrun Schury: I child of the world: Gabriele Münter; the biography. Structure, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-351-03394-1 .
  • Karoline Hille: Gabriele Münter: the artist with the magic hand. DuMont, Cologne 2012, ISBN 978-3-8321-9454-3 .
  • Bernd Fäthke: Marianne Werefkin - “the blue rider”. In exh. Cat .: Marianne Werefkin, From the Blue Rider to the Great Bear. Municipal Gallery Bietigheim-Bissingen 2014, p. 24 ff.
  • Sabine Windecker: Gabriele Münter. An artist from the circle of the 'Blue Rider' , 1991, Reimer, Berlin 1991, ISBN 3-496-01080-0 .
  • Stefanie Schröder: Gabriele Münter. A life between Kandinsky and art. Revised new edition. Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 2018, ISBN 978-3-451-38314-4 . (Biography of a novel with a list of sources and references as well as black and white illustrations)

radio play

Ute Mings: Kandinsky, Münter, Jawlensky, Werefkin and Co., Die Neue Künstlervereinigung München (1909–1912). Bayerischer Rundfunk 2, 2009.


  • Münter and Kandinsky, the Russian House. 44 min., Arte
  • The savior of the "Blue Rider" (BR 2017, 12 min) [1] A film by Sandra Wiest about Münter's late years in Murnau and how, thanks to Gabriele Münter, pictures by Kandinsky and others came to the Lenbachhaus.

Web links

Commons : Gabriele Münter  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Annegret Hoberg: Gabriele Münter. P. 7.
  2. Hildegard Möller: Painters and muses of the "Blue Rider" . Piper Verlag, Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-492-95619-2 ( Google Books )
  3. Gisela Kleine: Gabriele Münter and Wassily Kandinsky - biography of a couple. Insel Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1994, p. 152.
  4. Gisela Kleine: Gabriele Münter and Wassily Kandinsky - biography of a couple. Insel Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1994, p. 700.
  5. ^ Annegret Hoberg: Gabriele Münter, biography. in: exhib. Cat .: Gabriele Münter 1877–1962 , retrospective, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich 1992, p. 12.
  6. ^ Clelia Segieth: Etta and Otto Stangel, gallery owners - collectors - museum founders. Cologne 2000, p. 158.
  7. Gisela Kleine: Gabriele Münter and Wassily Kandinsky - biography of a couple. Frankfurt / M. 1990, p. 316.
  8. Bernd Fäthke: Werefkin and Jawlensky with their son Andreas in the "Murnauer Zeit". In: exhib. Cat .: 1908–2008, 100 years ago, Kandinsky, Münter, Jawlensky, Werefkin in Murnau. Murnau 2008, p. 54.
  9. Johannes Eichner: Kandinsky and Gabriele Münter, From the origins of modern art. Munich 1957, p. 89.
  10. Brigitte Salmen and Annegret Hoberg: Around 1908 - Kandinsky, Münter, Jawlensky and Werefkin in Murnau. in exhibition cat .: 1908–2008, 100 years ago, Kandinsky, Münter, Jawlensky, Werefkin in Murnau. Murnau 2008, p. 16.
  11. Valentine Macardé: Le renouveau de l'art russe picturale 1863-1914. Lausanne 1971, p. 135 f.
  12. Annegret Hoberg, Titia Hoffmeister, Karl-Heinz Meißner: Anthology , in exh. Cat .: The Blue Rider and the New Image, From the “New Artists' Association Munich” to the “Blue Rider”. Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich 1999, p. 29.
  13. ^ Wassily Kandinsky / Franz Marc: Correspondence. Edited by Klaus Lankheit. Munich 1983, p. 29.
  14. Rosel Gollek: The Münter House in Murnau. Munich 1984.
  15. ^ Helmut Friedel and Annegret Hoberg: The Münterhaus in Murnau. Munich 2000, p. 7.
  16. Klaus Lankheit: The Blue Rider - Precisions. in exh. Cat .: Kunstmuseum Bern 1986, p. 225.
  17. Bernd Fäthke: The Blue Rider, exhibition of the Kunsthalle Bremen . In: Weltkunst , 70th year, No. 5, May 2000, p. 905.
  18. ^ Annegret Hoberg: Wassily Kandinsky and Gabriele Münter in Murnau and Kochel 1902–1914, letters and memories. Munich 1994, p. 123.
  19. ^ Annegret Hoberg: Franz and Maria Marc- Munich 2004, p. 72.
  20. Rosel Gollek: The Blue Rider in the Lenbachhaus Munich- Munich 1974, p. 11 f.
  21. ^ Mario-Andreas von Lüttichau: The modern gallery Heinrich Thannhauser in Munich. In: Avant-garde and audience: on the reception of avant-garde art in Germany 1905–1933. Bählaus, Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 1992, p. 299 ff.
  22. Christoph Wiedemann: Blooming in the Shadow - Exhibition on the 50th anniversary of Gabriele Münter's death. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung from August 2, 2012.
  23. Exhibitions since 1951 ( Memento from March 4, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) (accessed on November 19, 2015)
  24. Gabriele Münter- and Johannes Eichner-Stiftung ,, accessed on June 17, 2013.
  25. Helmut Friedel (Ed.): Gabriele Münter, Das Druckgraphische Werk. Munich 2000, p. 63 ff.
  26. Brigitte Salmen: The painters of the "Blauer Reiter" and their encounter with Japanese art. in exh. Cat .: "... these tender, spirited fantasies ...", The painters of the "Blauer Reiter" and Japan- Schloßmuseum Murnau 2011, p. 82.
  27. Helmut Friedel (Ed.): Gabriele Münter, Das Druckgraphische Werk. Munich 2000, p. 162 f.
  28. Bernd Fäthke: Von Werefkins and Jawlensky's weakness for Japanese art. In: exhib. Cat .: "... the tender, spirited fantasies ...", the painters of the "Blue Rider" and Japan. Murnau Castle Museum 2011, p. 109 ff.
  29. Helmut Friedel and Annegret Hoberg: The Blue Rider in the Lenbachhaus Munich. Munich 2000, No. 60
  30. Bernd Fäthke: Von Werefkins and Jawlensky's weakness for Japanese art. In: exhib. Cat .: "... the tender, spirited fantasies ...", the painters of the "Blue Rider" and Japan. Murnau Castle Museum 2011, p. 112, Fig. 16.
  31. Annegret Hoberg and Annika Öhrner: catalog processing , in exh. Cat .: Gabriele Münter 1877–1962. Retrospective, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich 1992, p. 268.
  32. Helmut Friedel and Annegret Hoberg: The Blue Rider in the Lenbachhaus Munich. Munich 2000, No. 10
  33. a b c Irene Netta, Ursula Keltz: 75 years of the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus and Kunstbau Munich . Ed .: Helmut Friedel. Self-published by the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus and Kunstbau, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-88645-157-7 , p. 224 .
  34. ^ Lenbachhaus - Gabriele Münter. Retrieved April 29, 2019 .
  35. ^ Gabriele Münter Galerie Thomas. Retrieved April 23, 2020 .
  36. cf. also Artcyclopedia