In the second part of my exploration of Expressionism I will be considering the role of the Blue Rider Group (Blaue Reiter ). Norbert Wolf in his survey of the Expressionism of the Munich Group describes how Wassily Kandinsky started out drawing perceptible objects which would lead to a abstract palette.
“In His painting of St Ludwig’s Church of 1908 the way Kandinsky brings the short strokes and tiny configurations of glittering gem like colour into a dazzling feature , composed in an interplay of light and dark”. .
” Kandinsky arrived at an approach his friends call a synthesis – a revolution of subject matter to flat coloured forms Rhythmically arranged and anchored by solid contours which enabled great detachment from natural appearances”. .
Wolf shows how in the Blaur reiter years of 1911- 1914 Kandinsky was striving to establish abstraction.
” In the Blaue reiter years 1911-14 Kandinsky unerringly pursued the path to abstraction. this was perhaps the artistically the most exciting phase of his career”. .
” In keeping with symbolic language that Dominated Kandinsky’s work of these years the suggestion of an Apocalyptic horseman appears in the left hand section of the picture. This figure stood for the battle against the Dragon of Wordliness “. .
Norbert Wolf now considers the contribution of Paul Klee the Great German revolutionary artist who participated in the short Lived German revolution of 1919 led by Karl Liebnicht and Rosa Luxemburg .
” The Swiss artist Paul Klee is one of the most outstanding personalities of modern art and also one of its greatest individualists , His watercolours prints and oil paintings bear little relation in form and content to the common motifs of the period”. .
” Nevertheless Klee was lastingly influenced by his brief connection with the Blaue Reiter (Blue Rider Group) and the Bahaus. It was his acquaintance with Kandinsky and other artists of the Expressionist vanguard in Munich that brought his breakthrough”. .
Wolf shows how Klee finally conquered the problem of how to develop colour in a series of amazing Watercolours.
” Klee’s final breakthrough to the magic of colour and stylistic maturity resulted from Impressions gleaned on a trip to Tunis in 1914 with August Macke”. .
” Over the following years the Light-flooded watercolours of this period were paralleled by increasingly strict crystalline abstractions”. .
Wolf now turns to the one expressionist from the Blaue reiter group who was closest to the Post Impressionists August Macke who unfortunately died during the horror of the First Imperialist War. Wolf considers one of his most important works the Lady in Green of 1913.
” In terms of palette and Lyrical approach to Nature Macke’s works resemble those of Marc with whom he was befriended from 1910″. .
” Macke maintained close contact with new artists association and contributed to the Blaue Reiter Almanck in 1911. He was sceptical of the mysteries indulged in by Kandinsky”. .
Wolf shows how Macke particularly was influenced by French art particularly the post-impressionists.
” Like no other Expressionist Macke translated the language of the French Art into German and he began to do so at an early date. Macke immersed himself in French Impressionism and Cubism which were later supplemented by impulses from Fauvism”. .
” The light flooded foliage of the trees together at the top to form a roof accented in greenish-yellow. The whole is suffused by an enchantment that recalls Romantic paintings by Caspar Friderich . spatial values are coordinated with the principle of planar order and brought into a fine equilibrium “. .
Wolf now concludes with a discussion of Franz Marc who painted a number of animal pictures tinged with Symbolism and Idealism. in the small Yellow Horses Marc said
” Art will liberate itself from Human ends and Human desires. we will no longer paint forests or Horses in the same way they appeal or appear to us but how they really are (Idealism)”. 
” The small Yellow horses gives a good sense of the sacred Utopia Marc envisages. He takes up the idea of paradisal harmony by basing his animal depiction on a pattern traditionally employed for depictions of human figures”. .
Wolf now comes on to describe the Tyrol that Marc painted in 1913-14.
” The next picture Tyrol was more strongly marked by the traditional interpretation of the Alps as scene of the sublime. Every element of the forbidden Landscape with Farm horses cowering at the base of a mighty mountain seems absorbed into the diagonal facets pulsating with futuristic energy”. .
” Luminous crystalline shapes are penetrated by black passages. No living creature can be seen. At the top right a blood red sun shines behind the threatening peaks”. .
In conclusion Wolf explores some more of Marc’s idealist statements about divine grace and apocalyptic visions.
” The Madonna on a crescent moon focus of the cosmic turbulence is simultaneously a symbol of divine grace and an apocalyptic motif- the pyramid of the garment spreads over the Farmhouse like a protective Cloak”. .
” In addition the Painting seems to announce an abandonment of the theme of animals and increasingly put into practice as he set out on the path to abstraction”. .
This concludes my second article on Expressionism. In Part 3 I will further explore the origins of the Die Brucke group of Kirchner , Heckl and Rottluff.
- EXPRESSIONISM TASCHEN BOOKS .NORBERT WOLF.PG.50