Monday, September 9, 2013

Little escap(ad)e: Art immersion, part 3, and finale

The third part of my art immersion trip week before last was a trip to my favorite painter Emil Nolde. The Museum Frieder Burda in Baden-Baden is currently showing a large exhibition of his paintings and water colours. Although I grew up in that area of southern Germany I had not yet been to the museum, which was opened only after I moved to a different part of Germany.
It is a very nice museum, with lots of light, an open-view walkway instead of a stairwell, and wonderful presentation rooms.

Museum Frieder Burda in Baden-Baden,
picture taken from museum's website
However, it was so packed with people that it was hard to get to see the paintings at all. It was rather noisy, you could hardly concentrate, and as I am thinking back to it after a few days have gone by, I realize that not too much of this exhibition visit has stayed with me... Too bad. I didn’t even take any decent pictures of the four flower beds that municipal gardeners had arranged in front of the building from inspirations of some of Nolde’s famous paintings of his garden. Of course, I have seen the garden itself several times, and four individual flower beds don’t match the overall ensemble simply due to size difference, and location matters as well (the clouds look differently in Seebüll than in southern Germany). But the only thing I can say of this suggestion at art immersion is: pick a day with decidedly fewer visitors!
However, a week after my return from that trip one other chance opened up: a day excursion to Murnau, village of the “Blaue Reiter”, where the Schlossmuseum Murnau is currently presenting the results of their extended searches for Erma Bossi, a friend and colleague of Gabriele Münter and Wladimir Kandinsky. She is included in Münter’s painting of a discussion scene in her house from 1909/10, 

"Kandinsky and Erma Bossi at the table, 1909/10" by Gabriele Münter,
picture of postcard of the painting
she exhibited with the circle of Blaue Reiter several times and has all but disappeared from art history books.
Born 1875 and raised in northern Italy, Bossi started paiting in Triest. She came to Munich and became a part of the circle trying to establish new directions in art that later became the Blaue Reiter group, travelled a lot, and returned to Italy probably before 1920. She continued painting, lived in Mailand mostly, and died in 1952.
The exhibition is an interesting show of a wide combination of items: paintings from Münter and other members of the circles they belonged to, photos, report cards from her school years, and a number of paintings by Bossi, sometimes accompanied by other painters’ paintings on the same subject or in a similar manner.

Erma Bossi, "Bathers", approx. 1911, picture from postcard
Erma Bossi, "In the Garden", approx. 1910,
picture from postcard

The problem about Bossi’s paintings is that the whereabouts about many of them seem to be completely unknown. The catalgoue lists at least a dozen of paintings which were catalogued and photographed in the nineties by a researcher who had started working on Bossi in the early seventies – but which could not be found for this exhibition.
No comment here on why the male members of Blauer Reiter only became the really famous ones...
In the afternoon I went to Münter’s house, located just on the other side of the railroad tracks, where she and Kandinsky spent several summers while painting in and around Murnau before the war. 

Gabriele Münter's house - view from the garden

view onto garden and Murnau castle and church,
from upstairs window

inside the house

This is the house where Gabriele Münter lived permanently after 1930, and where she kept all those paintings that she later donated to the city of Munich and which became the biggest asset of Lenbachhaus, known today as THE museum on Blaue Reiter.

No comment here on whether Münter would be as known today as she luckily is if she hadn’t been the one to make that donation...


  1. Thank you for such an interesting post. I knew about Gabriele Munter but Erma Bossi is new to me. I can't understand either why the male members of the Blaue Reiter are so much better known than the women. I loved the early paintings of Munter and Kandinsky - I prefer Kandinsky's early work to all the more famous paintings of his later period. I've been to the Lenbachhaus, but not to Murnau, so if I ever visit Germany again I'll have to make a detour...

    Catherine (in England)

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