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Lower Main Street, Murnau, 1910

Gabriele Münter

German, 1877-1962
Oil on textured cardboard
16-1/4 x 13-3/8 in. (41.3 x 34.0 cm)
Norton Simon Museum, Gift of Mr. David Gensburg
© 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn Reproduction, including downloading of ARS works is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

On view

A founding member of the German Expressionist group Der Blaue Reiter, the Berlin-born Gabriele Münter made a great leap forward when she moved to the rural village of Murnau with Wassily Kandinsky in 1908. It was in this southern Bavarian town, whose main street is pictured here with Münter’s characteristically vibrant color and reductive forms, where the birth of German Expressionism took place. Several long visits by Alexei Jawlensky, among others, inspired the painter to move beyond copying nature to “take a great leap forward,” as she termed it, “to abstraction, feeling the content, the essence of things.” The striking jewel tones and black outlined forms of her painting recall a kind of folk art painting that both she and Kandinsky experimented with while in Murnau, a method in which painting was done on the underside of a sheet of glass. Münter’s unique use of illustrative color along with the meaningful connection to primitive German culture situated her work at the heart of the German Expressionist movement.

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