Artists & Designers
Gabriele Münter (German, 1877–1962)
Gabriele Münter was born in Berlin into an upper-middle-class family in 1877. Growing up, Münter had a passion for drawing and began taking private lessons in the studio of Ernst Bosch in Düsseldorf. Banned from enrolling in Germany’s prestigious male-only academies, she enrolled in the Ladies’ School of Willy Platz in 1897 and briefly attended the beginners’ class at the Association for Women Painters in Munich in 1901. Unsatisfied with her education, the following year she entered the Phalanx School, a new avant-garde academy founded by Wassily Kandinsky. While there, Münter took still-life and landscape courses from Kandinsky, with whom she developed a romantic relationship that would last for twelve years. From 1904 to 1908, Münter and Kandinsky traveled around Europe and North Africa. Although they were engaged, they never married. In 1909, Münter settled in Murnau, a town outside of Munich, and helped establish the Munich-based avant-garde group the New Artists’ Association. Two years later, she would leave the group along with Franz Marc and Kandinsky to form the German expressionist group The Blue Rider, which would last until 1914.
It was in Paris that Münter first achieved significant recognition when the journal Tendances Nouvelles published some of her woodcuts, and in 1913 she held her first one-woman show at the Sturm Galerie in Berlin. Though her artistic style changed dramatically over the course of her career, Münter often worked in a highly stylized manner that emphasized simplified forms and an expressive use of line and color. With the onset of World War I and Kandinsky’s Russian nationality, the couple moved to Switzerland but separated later that year. For the next ten years Münter took a break from painting and traveled, living in Sweden and Copenhagen. In 1930, she moved back to Murnau where she started to work again. During World War II she hid her collection from the Nazis during house searches and saved her work along with that of Kandinsky and others from The Blue Rider group. In 1957, nearing the end of her life, she gave her collection to a Munich gallery. Münter died in 1962 and is remembered for her significant contribution to The Blue Rider group and the development of German Expressionism.
Kelsey Martin and Nicole Myers, DMA exhibition text Women Artists in Europe from the Monarchy to Modernism, 2018.
National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC
Learn more about Gabriele Münter.
Princeton University Art Museum
Learn more about the life and works of Münter.
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Learn more about German Expressionism and The Blue Rider group.