The Human Image
11.2. — 21.5.2023
Gabriele Münter (1877-1962) is one of the most important female expressionists. The exhibition Gabriele Münter. The Human Image focuses for the first time on the artist's portraits. Her paintings, prints, drawings, and photographs reveal a enormous diversity of media and styles. Sometimes vividly colored, sometimes in a more muted palette, or even in the style of New Objectivity - the portrait was Münter's very own terrain and is evidence of her unique joy in experimentation.
In her portraits, Münter manages to capture the personality of the sitter through the respective chosen painting style, composition and abstraction. In this genre, she also expresses what compelled her in terms of content or form. In her group portraits, Münter translates interpersonal relationships and group dynamics into a structural fabric and also incorporates the landscape into the composition as a carrier of meaning. The portrait was Münter's very own terrain, which she interpreted continually with and through the most diverse stylistic devices.
With around 100 paintings, prints, drawings, photographs and a reverse painting on glass, the Bucerius Kunst Forum illustrates the enormous variety in Münter's work and her unique creative power. In addition to works from the Gabriele Münter and Johannes Eichner Foundation and the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau in Munic, the show brings together loans from important collections such as the Milwaukee Art Museum, the National Gallery of Ireland, the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, and the Israel Museum, as well as private lenders.
Throughout her life Gabriele Münter took an active interest in people and capturing their likenesses. As a child she captured people in pencil drawings and during her trip through the USA (1899/1900) with her camera. Her sketchbook drawings are unsurpassed, both in their expressive rendering of individuals in just a few strokes and in their deft composition. At her artistic debut in 1907 at the Salon d'Automne in Paris, the majority of her exhibited works were portraits. During her time as a founding member of Der Blaue Reiter, she created incomparable portraits in a colorful, vibrant formal language.
“Portrait painting is the boldest and the most difficult, the most spiritual, the most extreme task for the artist. To go beyond the portrait is a demand that can only be made by those who have not yet advanced toward it,” she once said.
The exhibition Gabriele Münter. The Human Image, organised in cooperation with the Gabriele Münter and Johannes Eichner Foundation and the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau Munich, presents the portraits with which the artist was intensively occupied between 1899/1900 and 1940. The show is divided into six chapters: self-portraits, portraits, portraits of children, figural portrayals, people in drawings and group portraits. Each chapter is arranged chronologically and begins with Münter's early photographs, which have so far been mostly left out of the reception. Yet these show her keen eye for people, situations, and compositions, and her artistic and visual talent, from her early years. Together with her vividly coloured portraits in painting, the prints and drawings of the following decades, Gabriele Münter's artistic development and her love of experimentation can be traced. The consummate handling of colour and form for which she would become known, as well as her distinct talent for drawing, are just as arresting here as the versatility of her visual language.
The focused monographic show thereby presents Münter's artistic oeuvre, independent of biographical aspects such as her relationship to Wassily Kandinsky, which have obscured the view of her oeuvre for too long. In this way, the Bucerius Kunst Forum presents Münter's singular importance as a central artist of German Expressionism, comparable to Paula Modersohn-Becker.
The exhibition is sponsored by
Get a comprehensive insight into the world of the important artist Gabriele Münter in our exhibition video (only in German). Kathrin Baumstark, director and curator of the show, talks among other things about Münter's unique and at the same time multifaceted creative power, which is particularly evident in her portraits.