Gabriele Munter: Swimming in art

19th century art abstract expressionism blaue reiter colour gabriele gabriele munter german art kandinsky landscape modern art munter painting Jun 06, 2022
Gabriele Munter Blog

Gabriele Münter (1877-1962) played a vital role in the development of German Expressionism in the early years of the 20th century. 


She was at the forefront of a group of highly influential artists and a founder member both of the progressive and the celebrated avant-garde group, Der Blaue Reiter. 

She was pivotal in redirecting the course of German modern art.


Gabriele Munter was born in Berlin 1877 to an upper class family. 

Her family supported her desire to become and artist and had private tutoring as she was growing up. 


By the time she was 21 both her parents had died, leaving Gabriele at home alone with no occupation.


She decided to take a trip to America with her sister to stay with family and spent 2 years travelling around. She had inherited vast money from their parents so was able to live freely and independently and without convention. She filled many sketchbooks during this time, 6 remain. 


Upon return she studied at the Phalanx School in Munich, and was introduced to post impressionism, using techniques with palette knives and brushes. 


She also was fascinated by Bavarian Folk art. 


She met and was taught by Wassily Kandinsky, who took her artistic talent seriously. He invited her to join his summer painting classes in the alps. 




At first I experienced great difficulty with my brushwork – I mean with what the French call la touche de pinceau. So Kandinsky taught me how to achieve the effects that I wanted with a palette knife... My main difficulty was I could not paint fast enough. My pictures are all moments of life – I mean instantaneous visual experiences, generally noted very rapidly and spontaneously. When I begin to paint, it's like leaping suddenly into deep waters, and I never know beforehand whether I will be able to swim. Well, it was Kandinsky who taught me the technique of swimming. I mean that he has taught me to work fast enough, and with enough self-assurance, to be able to achieve this kind of rapid and spontaneous recording of moments of life.

— Gabriele Münter, Reinhold Heller, Gabriele Münter: The Years of Expressionism 1903–1920. New York: Presteverlag, 1997.



Munter focused on German Expressionism. She studied woodcut techniques. Sculpture, painting and printmaking. She kept a journal and used a state of the art camera. 


She loved landscape and her scenes display an almost art nouveau simplicity. Softly muted colours, collapsed pictoral space and flattened forms. She favoured precision and simplicity over symbolism. 


After 1908 her work became influenced by artists like Van Gogh and Matisse. Her work took on characteristics of Gaugin’s style and the fauves. She bought a house in the Bavarian Market town of Murnau and spent time painting imaginative landscapes in direct opposition to German Modernism. She uses blue, green, yellow and pink widely.


Munter’s work directly influenced Kandinsky, adopting saturated colours and a more abstract expressionist style. 


Munter and Kandinsky established a avante-garde Munich based “New Artists Association” which exhibited up until WW1. She also exhibited in Kandinsky’s Blaue Reiter group. 


Munter’s work transitions from copying nature to feeling it’s content and drawing out the abstract. She grew interested in the depiction of the modern civilisation gravitating towards materialisation and alienation. 



When WW1 began Munter and Kandinsky moved to Switzerland. In 1914 Kandinsky moved to Russia and married. Munter and K’s relationship was over and then she stopped creating art for many years. She resumed in 1920 when she moved back to Germany. 


In 1930’s when tension was brewing in Germany and Europe, the rise of the Nazi\s condemned German modernist movements. She collected together the work of hers and Kandinsky’s and hid it, through several house searches. The art was never discovered and preserved for future generations. 


She donated her complete art collection at the age of 80 to the City gallery in Lenbachhaus in Munich. 


She died in 1962


My workshop is on Thursday 23rd June at 10am (taught on Zoom) you will learn to create landscape painting in in acrylic paints.
I'm really looking forward to teaching you about this artist's colourful style.
If you are in Sapphire or Emerald Art Hub Membership YOU DO NOT NEED TO REGISTER FOR THIS, you can access the course details and live class in your members area.
If you are not a Hub member you can either pay £19 or join the Hub for just £1 and access this class live or after the event on catch up.
Duration: 2 hour class
Date: Thursday 23rd June 2023
Time: 10 - 12
Cost: £19*
To book click HERE
* This class is included within my Create! Art Hub membership or available to book on for just £19. Use the coupon code:
TRYSAPPHIRE or TRYEMERALD to try out the Hub for just £1 for this class and more.
(NB this offer is for new Hub subscribers only).

Want to join my FREE Pen and Watercolour course?

Yes Please