1. Hamburg: Bucerius Kunst Forum: Gabriele Münter
Located in the heart of Hamburg next to the city hall, the Bucerius Kunst Forum organises four exhibitions each year, presenting world-class works of art from antiquity to the present day. It is a place to exchange ideas and encounter a broad range of visual arts. Discover Gabriele Münter. The Human Image, the first major exhibition of the work of this important German Expressionist focusing on a single theme: the artist’s intense engagement with portraiture from 1899 to 1940. Around 100 paintings, prints, drawings, photographs and reverse paintings on glass are being brought together to illustrate the enormous diversity of Münter’s work and her unique pioneering spirit. Throughout her life Gabriele Münter (1877–1962) took an active interest in people and capturing their likenesses. She already did pencil portraits as a child, as well as making photographs of people she encountered on a trip through the United States (1899/1900). “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. During her years as a founding member of Der Blaue Reiter group, Münter produced incomparable portraits cast in a colourful, vibrant formal language. The exhibition is divided into six chapters: self-portraits, portraits, portraits of children, figural portrayals, people in drawings and group portraits. Each chapter is arranged chronologically, beginning with Münter’s early photographs, which have rarely been exhibited to date. The prints and drawings she produced over the ensuing decades, viewed alongside her vividly coloured painted portraits, allow us to trace her artistic development and her relish in experimentation. 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. In her portraits, Münter manages to capture the personality of each sitter by fine-tuning the painting style, composition and degree of abstraction in each case. At the same time, the portrait genre allowed her to express what compelled her in terms of content or form. In her group portraits, Münter conveys interpersonal relationships and group dynamics through the structural fabric of the image, in some cases incorporating the landscape into the composition as a carrier of meaning. The focus of this monographic show is Münter as an artist in her own right, independent of the context of Der Blaue Reiter and Wassily Kandinsky, and to demonstrate her vast artistic range detached from her biography. In this way, the Bucerius Kunst Forum is able to spotlight Münter’s singular importance as a central artistic figure of German Expressionism.