Eingeordnet unter Künstler

Kandinsky in Munich

Tracing the Artist's Footsteps: 1896–1914

Wassily Kandinsky (1866–1944) spent the better part of the first eighteen years of his artistic career-–from 1896 until 1914-–based in Munich. Leaving behind his home in Moscow and a promising career in law and economics, he and his first wife Anja Semjakina (life dates unknown) moved to the Bavarian capital so that he could pursue his artistic ambitions. During this time, Munich and the surrounding countryside played a particularly central role in his early experimentations with abstraction. The period was defined by his artistic training and collaborations in multiple artist groups––most notably Der Blaue Reiter. Many of the motifs and patterns he created between 1896 and 1914 would, for example, reappear in his abstractions from the 1910s and later works at the Bauhaus (with which he was involved between 1922–1933).

After moving to Munich at the end of 1896, Kandinsky trained under Slovene artist Anton Ažbe (1862–1905) between 1897 and 1899, a significant though often-overlooked stage in the artist’s career. Ažbe’s school was one of the most progressive in Munich, and it became especially popular among Eastern European artists who moved to the city. His classes were available to artists in all stages of their careers, whether they were just beginning their training or were already well-established, and his encouragement to experiment with new trends in art made his teaching methods particularly attractive to his students. During this short period, for example, Kandinsky was exposed to the practice of anatomical drawings in conjunction with new theories developed by Ažbe that encouraged imaginative approaches to form constructions. These included, for example, the Kugelprinzip and Linienspiel, both of which incorporated nascent theories on visual perception and colour.
Particularly important to the success of Kandinsky’s early training was his integration into the bohemian district of Schwabing in Munich, where Ažbe hosted his classes on Georgenstraße. Kandinsky and Semjakina lived in multiple residences in this lively artistic neighbourhood in their first years in the city, from Georgenstraße 62 and later 35 to Giselastraße 28, to finally settling on a studio at Friedrichstraße 1. Kandinsky’s new friends and colleagues Marianne von Werefkin (1860–1938) and Alexej von Jawlensky (1864–1941) also lived nearby at Giselastraße 23––the latter of whom Kandinsky met through Ažbe’s school––where social gatherings took place and where artists, musicians, and philosophers exchanged new ideas.
After beginning his training with Ažbe, Kandinsky was accepted into the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in 1900, where he studied with the renowned draughtsman and Jugendstil follower Franz von Stuck (1863–1928). Kandinsky worked with Stuck for one year before helping to establish the Phalanx-Schule at Hohenzollernstraße 6 where he taught drawing and painting classes to men and women. The poster for the first Phalanx exhibition––held at Finkenstraße 2 in 1901––already shows the influence of the dominant Jugendstil to which he was exposed through Stuck (see also Das Fotoatelier Elvira).
Kandinsky met his long-term partner Gabriele Münter (1877–1962) in the summer of 1902 through the courses he taught with the Phalanx-Schule. Despite being married, Kandinsky and Münter began a romantic relationship, and the pair conducted a series of travels outside of Munich from 1904. After about four years of travelling to such locations as Holland, Tunisia, Italy, France, and South Tyrol, Münter and Kandinsky returned to Munich in 1908. In September, Kandinsky rented an apartment in Schwabing at Ainmillerstraße 36, where Münter later joined him. Between this home and a house Münter purchased in Murnau am Staffelsee in August 1909, significant collaborations took place that led to their participation in and organisation of avant-garde art groups.
In early 1909, for example, Münter and Kandinsky, along with their friends Werefkin and Jawlensky, became involved with the establishment of the Neue Künstlervereinigung München (NKVM), an artists’ group that stood in opposition to the Munich Secession. Kandinsky was elected chair of the organisation, and the first NKVM exhibition was held at Galerie Thannhauser. This period for Kandinsky coincided with the drafting and revision for his first treatise on art Über das Geistige in der Kunst (first published by Reinhard Piper in December 1911), which called for the need to spiritually elevate art.
Building upon his ideas in art and growing dissatisfied with the direction the NKVM was taking, Kandinsky helped establish the new coalition of artists Der Blaue Reiter. Alongside Franz Marc (1880–1916), who Kandinsky had met in early 1911, the two developed plans for an almanac that would feature art from different periods that shared very little visual similarities with one another. This mission was spearheaded in order to promote the importance for artists to create from an ‘inner’ motivation (innere Notwendigkeit) rather than from a desire to copy what is seen in nature.
Two exhibitions were held, the first of which ran from 18 December 1911 until 1 January 1912 in Galerie Thannhauser to rival the ongoing NKVM exhibition––which was being held in the adjacent exhibition rooms––before travelling to other locations. The second exhibition was set up for spring of the same year and began at Galerie Goltz. Together with these presentations and the publication of the almanac (also published by Reinhard Piper in 1912), Der Blaue Reiter became one of the foremost significant artist-collectives in the twentieth century.
After his involvement with Der Blaue Reiter, Kandinsky was forced to leave Germany in August 1914 due to the onset of World War I. His close ties to Munich and the partnership between him and Münter eventually dissolved, having last seen one another in 1916. Munich undoubtedly left a deep impression in Kandinsky’s artistic career, laying the groundwork from which his ideas continued to develop over the next decades. While the city served as Kandinsky’s artistic starting point, the connections he made and the inspirations he gleaned from this early period stayed with him throughout his career.

Bilder

Nicolas Seddeler, Dimitri Kardovski and Wassily Kandinsky in the painting school of Anton Ažbe in Munich, ca. 1897.
Nicolas Seddeler, Dimitri Kardovski and Wassily Kandinsky in the painting school of Anton Ažbe in Munich, ca. 1897. Ažbe’s progressive school was popular among Eastern European artists in Munich, including those shown in this photograph. Alexej von Jawlensky and Igor Grabar, for instance, also attended courses there. Quelle: VK 683.365A. Fonds Kandinsky, Bibliothèque Kandinsky, Centre Pompidou, Paris. © Bibliothèque Kandinsky, MNAM/CCI, Centre Pompidou - Dist. RMN-Grand Palais.
Programme for Wassily Kandinsky’s drawing and painting classes at the Munich School [School opened by the Phalanx Association, 1901–1903], ca. 1902.
Programme for Wassily Kandinsky’s drawing and painting classes at the Munich School [School opened by the Phalanx Association, 1901–1903], ca. 1902. After having completed his initial artistic training with Ažbe and Stuck, the Phalanx School offered Kandinsky his first teaching opportunities. Kandinsky’s classes were notably open to men and women, and his curriculum centred on figural and nude drawing lessons. Kandinsky’s leadership role for the Phalanx School would, in principle, lead to his later involvement with the Neue Künstlervereinigung München and Der Blaue Reiter. Quelle: VK 21 [Carrière professionnelle, enseignement de l'art : carte de membre, attestations, contrats de travail, bulletin de paie, bordereau, lettres (1883–1943)]. Fonds Kandinsky, Bibliothèque Kandinsky, Centre Pompidou, Paris. © Bibliothèque Kandinsky, MNAM/CCI, Centre Pompidou - Dist. RMN-Grand Palais.
Wassily Kandinsky and his students at the Phalanx School in Munich, 1902.
Wassily Kandinsky and his students at the Phalanx School in Munich, 1902. From left to right: Hedwig Fröhner, Olga Meerson, a Finnish friend, Maria Giesler, Wassily Kandinsky, and Wilhelm Hüsgen. Kandinsky and Hüsgen helped found the Phalanx School in Munich, which remained open only until 1904. Kandinsky met Gabriele Münter through his classes, and the two began a romantic relationship in the summer of 1902. Quelle: VK 683.384. Fonds Kandinsky, Bibliothèque Kandinsky, Centre Pompidou, Paris. © Bibliothèque Kandinsky, MNAM/CCI, Centre Pompidou - Dist. RMN-Grand Palais.
Wassily Kandinsky, Poster for the first ‘Phalanx’ exhibition, 1901.
Wassily Kandinsky, Poster for the first ‘Phalanx’ exhibition, 1901. Between 1901 and 1904, twelve Phalanx exhibitions were shown throughout Munich, all of which sought to counter the existing Academic and Sezession trends. Works shown in the Phalanx exhibitions generally stemmed from Post-Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist styles, and guest contributors included Claude Monet, Paul Signac, and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec. Significantly, while helping plan the Phalanx exhibitions, Kandinsky networked with other artists throughout Europe and in Russia, which allowed him to foster new relationships and develop inspiration for his own artistic style. These connections would help propel his career forward, helping him to later establish the Neue Künstlervereinigung München and Der Blaue Reiter. Quelle: Lithograph on paper, 49.8 x 66.8 cm, Centre Pompidou, Paris. © Philippe Migeat - Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI /Dist. RMN-GP.
Wassily Kandinsky at his desk at Ainmillerstrasse 36 in Munich, June 1913.
Wassily Kandinsky at his desk at Ainmillerstrasse 36 in Munich, June 1913. After returning from his travels with Münter in summer 1908, Kandinsky moved to this flat in the popular Schwabing district in Munich, and the couple stayed there until 1914. Between 1908 and 1914, Kandinsky enjoyed a period of fruitful experimentation and artistic production. He helped lead the Neue Künstlervereinigung München and Der Blaue Reiter initiatives, for example, and penned his first publication Über das Geistige in der Kunst. He also created his first non-objective works of art, including some of his most well-known Kompositions, Improvisations, and Impressions. Quelle: VK 682-313A. Fonds Kandinsky, Bibliothèque Kandinsky, Centre Pompidou, Paris. © Bibliothèque Kandinsky, MNAM/CCI, Centre Pompidou - Dist. RMN-Grand Palais.
Large poster for the first exhibition of the Neue Künstlervereinigung München, 1–15 December 1909.
Large poster for the first exhibition of the Neue Künstlervereinigung München, 1–15 December 1909. The NKVM was established in January of 1909, and Kandinsky was elected the first chairman of the association. The first exhibition was held in December of that year and included works by such artists as Erma Bossi, Alfred Kubin, and Marianne von Werefkin. After Kandinsky resigned as chairman in early 1911, he soon began developing his ideas for Der Blaue Reiter with Franz Marc in the summer of 1911. In December 1911, Kandinsky’s painting Komposition V was controversially rejected from the third NKVM exhibition, leading him to formally leave the association and quickly set up an exhibition for Der Blaue Reiter with Marc instead. The NKVM and Blaue Reiter exhibitions were shown in opposite galleries at Galerie Thannhauser, prompting even greater tensions between the artists. Quelle: Lithograph on paper, 92 x 63.3 cm, Centre Pompidou, Paris. © Philippe Migeat - Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI /Dist. RMN-GP.
First exhibition for ‘Der Blaue Reiter’ at the Galerie Thannhauser in Munich, 1911.
First exhibition for ‘Der Blaue Reiter’ at the Galerie Thannhauser in Munich, 1911. Over forty works were exhibited by a range of artists, including Kandinsky, Münter, Marc, Heinrich Campendonk, Henri Rousseau, Elisabeth Epstein, August Macke, and Robert Delaunay, among others. The show was not well-received and was perceived as being too radical, but its influences on art of the twentieth century has been far-reaching. Today, the largest collection of Blaue Reiter artworks in Europe is kept at the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, thanks to large donations made by the Gabriele Münter Stiftung in 1957 and the Gabriele Münter- und Johannes Eichner-Stiftung in 1966. Münter and her husband Johannes Eichner (1886–1958) protected these artworks in the basement of what has come to be known as the Münter-Haus in Murnau. Quelle: VK 693.2904CT-2908CT. Fonds Kandinsky, Bibliothèque Kandinsky, Centre Pompidou, Paris. © Bibliothèque Kandinsky, MNAM/CCI, Centre Pompidou - Dist. RMN-Grand Palais.
Entrance to the arts pavilion ‘Moderne Kunst Ausstellung’ at Oktoberfest in Munich, 1903.
Entrance to the arts pavilion ‘Moderne Kunst Ausstellung’ at Oktoberfest in Munich, 1903. Between 1900 and 1907, a modern art exhibition was held at Oktoberfest, imitating the annual exhibitions held at the Glaspalast in Munich. Little is known as to what was displayed, but it is believed that these shows parodied the more formal international art exhibitions in the city. Quelle: VK 683.535. Fonds Kandinsky, Bibliothèque Kandinsky, Centre Pompidou, Paris. © Bibliothèque Kandinsky, MNAM/CCI, Centre Pompidou - Dist. RMN-Grand Palais.
Kandinsky in front of Franz-Joseph-Strasse in Munich, ca. 1905.
Kandinsky in front of Franz-Joseph-Strasse in Munich, ca. 1905. Kandinsky lived in Munich between 1896 and 1914, with the exception of trips he made back to Russia, as well as a series of travels to Holland, Italy, France, and Tunisia he conducted with Münter between 1904 and 1908. Due to the onset of World War I, Kandinsky was forced into exile in Switzerland between August and December of 1914 before he returned to Russia for the duration of the War. He moved back to Germany in 1921, though this time to work at the Bauhaus, where he remained until 1933 when the doors to the Bauhaus were closed under pressure from the National Socialist government. He spent the remainder of his life and career in Neuilly-sur-Seine, just outside of Paris. Quelle: VK 682.306A. Fonds Kandinsky, Bibliothèque Kandinsky, Centre Pompidou, Paris. © Bibliothèque Kandinsky, MNAM/CCI, Centre Pompidou - Dist. RMN-Grand Palais.

Ort

Metadaten

Anne Grasselli, “Kandinsky in Munich,” MunichArtToGo, accessed 21. Juli 2024, https://municharttogo.zikg.eu/items/show/141.