A Major Work: the Almanach of the Blaue Reiter

Centre Pompidou

Kandinsky met Franz Marc, a young Munich-born painter, on New Year's Eve in 1910. 

Portrait of Franz Marc by AnonymousCentre Pompidou

A friendship blossomed between the two artists, and they decided to start Der Blaue Reiter (Blue Rider) together.  

Study for the Cover of Der Blaue Reiter Catalogue by Kandinsky, VassilyCentre Pompidou

Breaking away from the NKVM (New Association of Munich Artists), Kandinsky, Franz Marc, and Gabriele Münter organized their own art show in December 1911.

First exhibition "Le Cavalier Bleu" [Der Blaue Reiter] at Thannhauser gallery in Munich by Münter, GabrieleCentre Pompidou

They exhibited their own works alongside works by Robert Delaunay, Arnold Schönberg, and Henri Rousseau, also known as le Douanier (the tax collector).  

First exhibition "Le Cavalier Bleu" [Der Blaue Reiter] at Thannhauser gallery in Munich by Münter, GabrieleCentre Pompidou

Blue Rider was published for the first time. It was a publishing project that Kandinsky and Marc had been working on for months. 

First exhibition "Le Cavalier Bleu" [Der Blaue Reiter] at Thannhauser gallery in Munich by Münter, GabrieleCentre Pompidou

Together, they wanted to create a work entitled The Blue Rider Almanac, a publication made up of images and articles created exclusively by artists in different disciplines and from different countries.

Page of the mockup of the Blaue Reiter AlmanachCentre Pompidou

By doing so, they wanted to bring together works of various genres and eras, and show that all forms of art—painting, music, non-European art, popular art, children's drawings—tend to move in the same direction.  

Page of the mockup of the Blaue Reiter AlmanachCentre Pompidou

For Marc and Kandinsky, art was not so much a question of form, but of the spiritual content of a work.

Page of the Blaue Reiter Almanach by Kandinsky, VassilyCentre Pompidou

They wanted to spread their progressive ideas, and in May of 1912, the group's almanac appeared for the first time. 

Cover of Der Blaue Reiter Almanach by Kandinsky, VassilyCentre Pompidou

It consisted of two in-depth articles by Kandinsky—On the problem of form and On scenic composition—as well as the first mentions of the staging for his composition The Yellow Sound.

Page of the Blaue Reiter Almanach by Kandinsky, VassilyCentre Pompidou

The Blue Rider Almanac refers to the riders in popular myths and also to Saint George. For Kandinsky, the rider is a metaphor for the artist:

"The horse carries its rider with vigor and speed. But it is the rider who steers the horse. Talent steers the artist to the highest heights with vigor and speed, but it is the artist who is the master of his talent" (Looks on the Past).

On this page, which is one of the 11 studies Kandinsky created for the cover of the first  Almanac, the rider is mid-action, crossing the page as the artist wishes to free himself from traditional pictorial concepts.

Study for the Cover of Der Blaue Reiter Almanach by Kandinsky, VassilyCentre Pompidou

While Marc and Kandinsky chaired the editorial committee of this major work, the painter August Macke gathered images for the ethnographic section of the Almanac and wrote a study on tribal masks.

Page of the Blaue Reiter Almanach by Kandinsky, VassilyCentre Pompidou

Alongside the creation of the Almanac, in February 1912, Der Blaue Reiter put on a second exhibition in Munich, continuing to focus on the promotion of modern art.

This exhibition, titled "Black and White," was dedicated to graphic works.

With over 350 pieces, it showed international avant-garde works from artists including Picasso, Derain, Malevich, Goncharova, Arp, Klee, and the group The Bridge (Die Brücke). 

Macke did not share Marc and Kandinsky's belief in the spiritual conception of a painting, and so moved away from Blue Rider in favor of a more hedonistic relationship between man and nature.

Almanach Der blaue Reiter by Kandinsky, VassilyCentre Pompidou

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