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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Gabriele Münter

b. 1877, Berlin; d. 1962, Murnau, Germany

Gabriele Münter was a founding member of two German avant-garde groups: the Neue Künstlervereinigung (NKV) and Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider). The first, established in Munich in 1909, provided a liberal alternative to the official exhibiting venues. The second, formed in 1911 when Münter, her partner Kandinsky, and Franz Marc broke from the NKV, represented the apex of German Expressionism. Münter was a gifted pianist before turning to painting. In 1902, she studied under Kandinsky at the Phalanx School in Munich. The two began a relationship that lasted until 1916. In her earlier work, Münter rejected Impressionism, preferring a degree of abstraction in her Expressionist still lifes, portraits, and landscapes, which she exhibited in the shows organized by the NKV and Blaue Reiter. Between 1917 and 1920, she focused on portraits, followed by a decade of much reduced output. When the Nazis came to power, her work, like that of many contemporaries, was labeled degenerate. Critical recognition of Münter’s work began in the postwar period.