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Personal Photographs by Munter and Kandinsky Illuminate Guggenheim Retrospective
Installation view: First Exhibition of the Blaue Reiter Editorial Office, Room 1, Moderne Galerie, Munich, 1911–12. From left to right: Robert Delaunay, The City No. 2 (1910); Arnold Schönberg, Street Scene at Night (1910, top); Gabriele Münter, Frosty Landscape (1911, bottom); August Macke, Still Life–Bouquet of Flowers with Agave (1911, bottom left); Münter, Evening (1910, top); and Albert Bloch, Houses and Chimneys (1911, bottom right).

NEW YORK, NY.- Gabriele Münter and Vasily Kandinsky, 1902– 1914: A Life in Photographs, an exhibition of personal images of Vasily Kandinsky (1866– 1944) and his long-time companion Gabriele Münter (1877–1962), taken by both artists, is on view in the Sackler Center for Arts Education at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in conjunction with the full-scale retrospective Kandinsky, organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in cooperation with the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau, Munich, and the Centre Pompidou, Paris. This exhibition of biographical photographs is unique to the Guggenheim’s presentation and features images that have never before been exhibited in the United States. Gabriele Münter and Vasily Kandinsky, 1902– 1914: A Life in Photographs is organized by Tracey Bashkoff, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions, and Karole Vail, Assistant Curator, at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and is on view from September 18, 2009, to January 13, 2010.

Featuring photographs by the German artist Münter and a selection by the Russian-born Kandinsky, this presentation of 31 framed exhibition prints documents the years they lived, traveled, and worked together between 1902 and 1914. Though better known as a painter, Münter was also an accomplished amateur photographer, and most of the images on view at the Guggenheim were taken by her and offer a glimpse into the private and public personas of both artists.

Münter and Kandinsky met in 1901 through the Phalanx, the artists’ association and progressive painting school in Munich, where she studied and he taught. They developed an intimate relationship in the summer of 1902. Though he did not divorce his wife Anja until 1911, Kandinsky and Münter, from May 1904 onward, took extended trips to Holland, Italy, and Tunisia, and lived in Sèvres near Paris for over a year. In 1908, the couple settled in Munich and spent that summer in the small Alpine town of Murnau, where, along with Russian painters Alexei Jawlensky (1864–1941) and Marianne von Werefkin (1860–1938), they experimented with a more expressive style, developing an artistic language that led to abstraction. Kandinsky and Münter also collaborated with other artists, eventually forming the Neue Künstlervereinigung München (NKVM) (New Artists’ Association of Munich) and later the Blaue Reiter (Blue Rider), a group well represented in the Guggenheim Museum collection. Münter took photographs sporadically after she and Kandinsky parted ways in 1914, though their final separation did not occur until 1916.

The works on view in Gabriele Münter and Vasily Kandinsky, 1902–1914 show Münter’s role in documenting the historic interactions of the Blaue Reiter movement as well as reveal some of her private moments with Kandinsky in their studio in Munich, at her house in Murnau, and during their travels in Europe and northern Africa. The photographs in the exhibition range from informal snapshots—Kandinsky doing garden work or Münter in the arbor of her home—to more formal portraits, such as the image of Kandinsky in front ofSmall Pleasures, a canvas he completed in 1913 that is now in the collection of the Guggenheim Museum, or the group portrait that gathers Kandinsky along with Blaue Reiter affiliates Heinrich Campendonk (German, 1889–1957), Bernhard Koehler (German, 1849– 1927), Franz Marc (German, 1880–1916), Maria Marc (German, 1876–1955), and Thomas von Hartmann (Russian, 1885–1956).

All works on view in Gabriele Münter and Vasily Kandinsky, 1902–1914 are exhibition prints, 2009, courtesy Gabriele Münter- und Johannes Eichner-Stiftung, Munich.

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