Feeling blue: Der Blaue Reiter, Francophilia and the Tate Gallery, 1960

Nathan J. Timpano

It must always be slightly misleading to show the Blaue Reiter painters by themselves.1

DURING the summer of 1960, the Arts Council of Great Britain, in collaboration with the Royal Scottish Academy and the Edinburgh Festival Society, organized the inaugural UK exhibition devoted to the multinational, Munich-based Expressionist group Der Blaue Reiter (1911–1914). The show, eponymously titled The Blue Rider Group, premiered at the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) in conjunction with the fourteenth annual Edinburgh International Festival (EIF), before travelling in late September 1960 to its more popular and prestigious venue, the Tate Gallery in London. Of particular historical importance, The Blue Rider Group was the second post-war exhibition in Europe devoted solely to this group, preceded only by the 1949 Blaue Reiter retrospective at the Haus der Deutschen Kunst (House of German Art) in Munich.2 According to Robert Ponsonby, then director of the EIF, The Blue Rider Group was intended to be an ‘exceptionally comprehensive’ exhibition that would ‘redress a long-standing debt’ to artists who had been ‘the prime movers of the now world-wide abstract movement’ – a point exemplified by the show’s inclusion of works by Wassily Kandinsky, including Improvisation. Gorge (Improvisation Klamm, 1914, figure 7.1), Romantic Landscape (Romantische Landschaft, 1911) and Cossacks (Cosaques, 1910–1911).3 To redress this debt, the Arts Council invited Hans Konrad Röthel, then director of Munich’s Städtische Galerie (now the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus München), to curate the show. Röthel – a leading scholar of Der Blaue Reiter at mid-century – thus arranged for the Städtische Galerie to lend nearly half of the show’s 227 objects, including Franz Marc’s Nude with Cat (Akt mit Katze, 1910, figure 7.2), August Macke’s Promenade (1913, figure 7.3) and, as previously mentioned, Kandinsky’s Improvisation. Gorge.4 Röthel additionally provided the introductory essay for the exhibition catalogue, the cover of which reproduced Kandinsky’s original woodcut for the cover of the 1912 Der Blaue Reiter almanac; the iconic print was not, however, included in the show.

7.1 Wassily Kandinsky Improvisation. Gorge, 1914.

For Ponsonby, the exhibition – on a more generalized level – was designed to showcase underrepresented German modern art at the EIF, which had historically favoured French and British painting at past annual exhibitions. To rectify this lacuna, and to sidestep the perennial focus on French modernism at the EIF, The Blue Rider Group became the first exhibition in the history of Der Blaue Reiter to display, in a completely ahistorical fashion, the group’s artistic output exclusive of the full gamut of European avant-garde painting. As such, images by Die Brücke artists and Paris-based painters (especially Robert Delaunay, André Derain and Pablo Picasso) – all of whom had exhibited their works in 1911 and 1912 in the originary exhibitions of Der Blaue Reiter – were noticeably absent from The Blue Rider Group show. These non-Munich-based artists had, in fact, been central to the foundational conception and cosmopolitanism of Der Blaue Reiter, including the curatorial practices that informed the almanac and the group’s historic exhibitions, a point to which I shall return later.

7.2 Franz Marc, Nude with Cat, 1910.

Given the purview, organization and collaborative nature of the British showing of The Blue Rider Group, the exhibition was primed to be an overwhelming success. When the show moved to the Tate, however, critics in London unexpectedly lambasted the aesthetic quality and selection of objects for this inaugural event (see figures 7.17.6). Given the popularity of certain members of Der Blaue Reiter by mid-century, particularly Kandinsky, it is somewhat difficult to fathom that the group was not immediately heralded as one of the arbiters of Central European modernism in post-war London.5 One (anonymous) art critic for The Times, who had seen the show in both Edinburgh and London, derided the exhibition at the Tate, arguing that The Blue Rider Group presented viewers with a group of artists whose ideas made a far greater contribution to the history of art than their paintings. In a damning opening statement, they commented: ‘the Blaue Reiter painters are perhaps more interesting historically than artistically’, arguing further that the group amounted to nothing more than ‘a weakish, eclectic side of German Expressionism’.6 A subsequent review by Edith Hoffmann – a leading scholar of Expressionism, and an Austrian émigré who had settled in London in 1934 – later appeared in the November issue of The Burlington Magazine. Hoffmann, like the critic for The Times, saw The Blue Rider Group at the Tate and was similarly displeased with the show, arguing that it ‘was not as successful as it might have been’.7 She explained that its poor organization and choice of mediocre works by ‘the now famous group’ were ‘of greater interest to those already fairly familiar with its subject than to the uninitiated’.8 Since the exhibition was intended to introduce the art of Der Blaue Reiter as a single, yet collective group to a broader British audience for the first time – and thus without comparative works by other German Expressionists, like Die Brücke, or additional European artists, such as the French Fauves and Cubists – Hoffmann’s criticism suggests that the mission of the exhibition had essentially failed.

7.3 August Macke, Promenade, 1913.

From its inception, Der Blaue Reiter was always a diversified group comprised of artists from Switzerland, the United States, and the German, Russian, and Austro-Hungarian Empires. And as previously mentioned, the first and second group exhibitions of Der Blaue Reiter (1911 and 1912) conspicuously included works by other European modernists, a point that sharply opposes the revised presentation of these artists in The Blue Rider Group exhibition. In contrast to the 1960 show, the curatorial practices of Der Blaue Reiter historically reinforced the group’s strong and prominent interest in international modern art, a realization that led the German art historian Wilhelm Worringer to celebrate the cosmopolitan nature of Expressionism in the early twentieth century.9 At the first exhibition of Der Blaue Reiter – which opened in December 1911 at Heinrich Thannhauser’s Moderne Galerie in Munich’s Arco-Palais, and which later travelled throughout Germany, Austria-Hungary and Scandinavia until 1914 – the group included paintings by Delaunay and Henri Rousseau alongside their own. Works by Derain, Picasso and Georges Braque were likewise shown at the second group exhibition held from February to April 1912 at Hans Goltz’s Neue Kunst Galerie, also in Munich. French modernists were similarly represented at subsequent German exhibitions in which Blaue Reiter artists participated. These shows included Karl Ernst Osthaus’s well-known 1912 Sonderbund exhibition in Cologne, and the 1913 First German Autumn Salon (Erster deutscher Herbstsalon), which opened in Berlin under the direction of Herwarth Walden, founder of the Expressionist magazine Der Sturm (The Storm) and the avant-gardist Galerie Der Sturm.10 In these originary exhibitions, it is overwhelmingly clear that Der Blaue Reiter situated itself (and was simultaneously situated by contemporary scholars and gallerists) within a transnational, pan-European understanding of modernism.

However, and in spite of Der Blaue Reiter’s conceptualization of their art within an international context, not all German scholars or artists uniformly embraced the group’s cosmopolitan definition of Expressionism. In his seminal book Expressionism (Der Expressionismus, 1914), the art critic and historian Paul Fechter famously asserted that this was a strongly ‘Germanic’ style.11 In a similar vein, the Brücke artist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner argued in his Chronicle of the Artists’ Group Brücke (Chronik der Künstler-Gruppe Brücke, 1913, first published in 1948) that Die Brücke had distanced itself from the influence of contemporary foreign art, and had instead adopted a pro-nationalistic stance in order to distinguish the group’s unique, avant-garde status from other international art movements of the early twentieth century.12 Even though Kirchner’s rhetoric did not represent the aesthetics – or beliefs – espoused by all members of Die Brücke, it is important to note that none of the Blaue Reiter artists ever sought to outwardly distance themselves from French modern art, either in their group exhibitions, or their collaborative publications.13 As evidenced in the pages of the almanac, the group contrastingly sought to highlight and embrace works by folk artists, non-western makers and French modernists alike.

Building upon the extant contemporary literature, this chapter proposes a re-evaluation of The Blue Rider Group exhibition, including a re-appraisal of the show’s curatorial agenda and the post-war reception of German art in England and Scotland prior to the show’s unveiling at the RSA. Rather than presuming that The Blue Rider Group was inherently flawed because of the museum programme, or that it only showcased ‘mediocre’ works, I suggest instead that the non-unified, cosmopolitan aesthetic of Der Blaue Reiter, as well as the organizer’s deliberate decision to eliminate comparative works by French or Francophile modern artists, was responsible for the non-laudatory praise offered by London critics at mid-century. This study consequently explores how, and to what end, a collective English (rather than Scottish) bias towards French modernism played a role in the manner in which post-war London critics responded unfavourably to The Blue Rider Group when it opened at the Tate in 1960. The negative criticism afforded to the exhibition in England may have been the result of latently held nationalistic attitudes towards German art following World War I and World War II, yet anti-German sentiments do not appear to have played a large or defining role in the unenthusiastic reception of The Blue Rider Group. Instead, a review of the critical literature reveals that the deliberate omission of French art – which every previous exhibition of Der Blaue Reiter had incorporated, including the post-war retrospective in Munich – had prejudiced London critics against the show. Rather than displaying an inherent bias against all German modern art, English critics instead revealed their truer Francophilia; and in the process, ironically judged works by Der Blaue Reiter against their French counterparts – the very artists Der Blaue Reiter had historically embraced, but who the organizers of The Blue Rider Group had ‘neglected’ to include.

The unflattering criticism of The Blue Rider Group exhibition serves, moreover, as a reminder that, even in the present era, scholars of Der Blaue Reiter are asked to explain the nuances involved in the formation of a multinational, Munich-based group that unified disparate artists by way of shared intellectual ideas, rather than a single, artistic style. To the credit of the exhibition organizers, Röthel and the Arts Council reiterated this point in the exhibition catalogue, reminding readers that Der Blaue Reiter historically lacked a common aesthetic.14 In this regard, the non-fixed nature of Der Blaue Reiter as a loosely defined collective of international artists appropriately mirrors the non-fixed aesthetic of the group’s almanac, which equally lacked a central manifesto or style.15 With these notions in mind, it is perhaps more beneficial to rethink Der Blaue Reiter as an avant-garde group that blatantly defies the traditional, curatorial practices that seek to unify (or chronologically explain) the development of a style through a group’s shared, artistic output. It is not my intention, however, to argue that a problem of style exists per se within this particular German Expressionist group. Yet without a unifying aesthetic, The Blue Rider Group exhibition found itself in murky territory at the Tate Gallery: on the one hand, its organizers had adopted an ahistorical hanging that excluded French painting; but on the other hand, the artwork simply did not resemble the stronger aesthetic of French modern art, at least not according to London critics. Before delving into the specifics of this damning criticism, it will be beneficial to first review the kinds of exhibitions that British art critics had grown accustomed to seeing on the walls of their institutions prior to 1960.

German vs. French modern art in Great Britain, 1890–1960

While a review of every British exhibition ever organized around French, German or European modern art before 1960 is beyond the scope of the current study, a few important examples are worth noting when examining the preference afforded to French modern painting, particularly Post-Impressionism, in both England and Scotland prior to the mid-century. Christian Weikop has tellingly referred to this favourable bias as the ‘curatorial Francophilia’ that was promulgated by various institutions during the late nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century.16 Historically, these Francocentric attitudes were most prevalent among art critics in London. It is equally evident that German Expressionism – whether Die Brücke, or Der Blaue Reiter – had been publicly displayed and positively reviewed in Edinburgh from a much earlier date than in the British capital.17 These realities may explain why German modern art was received with mixed attitudes throughout Great Britain between 1890 and 1960. This notwithstanding, French modern art remained a dominant force in English and Scottish art museums, galleries and exhibitions throughout this timespan.

As early as 1891 and 1892, sculptures by Auguste Rodin were exhibited at the annual exhibitions of the RSA and Edinburgh’s Society of Scottish Artists (SSA), the latter of which was established in 1892 – a historical correlation that undoubtedly reinforced Rodin’s international status (at least in Scotland) as a relevant, contemporary French artist working in the late nineteenth century.18 Rodin’s sculptural works later appeared in Manchester at the twenty-fifth autumn exhibition of the Manchester Art Gallery held in 1907, the same year the RSA elected Rodin an honorary member of their Academy. By comparison, the RSA seems not to have showcased paintings by German modernists until 1911; in terms of modern sculpture, the Academy did not exhibit works by a comparable German artist, such as Max Klinger, until 1912.19 Irrespective of the ostensible preference shown to French art at the fin de siècle, the RSA (as will later be discussed) was one of the first British institutions to display works by German modernists. To put this into historical perspective, one might compare the RSA to the Fitzwilliam Museum at the University of Cambridge, which, between 1871 and 1914, had been invested in bringing German art and culture ‘to the attention of the British public in the age following German Unification’.20 That point notwithstanding, the majority of Germanic works on view at the Fitzwilliam throughout this period were by Old Master painters, not modern artists. Images by early German ‘modernists’, like Adolph Menzel, did not enter the permanent collection until 1937 and 1943 at the behest of the English artist Charles Haslewood Shannon, and other benefactors.21

When compared to the late nineteenth century, the early twentieth century witnessed a sizeable increase in the number of exhibitions focused on foreign modern artists in Great Britain. The year 1908 saw the formation of the Franco-British Exhibition in London, the first international exposition to be organized and financed by two countries, and more importantly, a venue that displayed objects by British artists alongside French modernists at the Fine Art Palace. Although the exhibition was not designed to highlight contemporary art from the two countries – given that the somewhat outmoded English Pre-Raphaelites and French Realists were well represented – the exposition did showcase artists considered ‘modern’ at the fin de siècle, including J. M. W. Turner and Aubrey Beardsley from England, and Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, Gustave Moreau, Berthe Morisot, Camille Pissarro and Rodin from France.22 Two years later, in November 1910, the influential English artist, historian and art critic Roger Fry organized a show devoted to French Post-Impressionists at London’s Grafton Galleries, the first exhibition of its kind in London.23 Fry, a member of London’s prominent Bloomsbury Group and a founding editor of The Burlington Magazine, is today largely credited with introducing the British public to French Post-Impressionism: a term he coined in the catalogue for the exhibition Manet and the Post-Impressionists.24 Within the current scholarship, Weikop has previously discussed the role that Fry and the Bloomsbury Group’s Francophilia played in legitimizing French modern art in Great Britain in the early twentieth century – a preference that seemingly precluded works by German modernists in London exhibitions of the period.25 It is all the more interesting that Fry had alternatively considered using the term ‘Expressionism’, rather than ‘Post-Impressionism’, for the title of the 1910 Grafton exhibition. His decision to abandon the former term might suggest that he had read texts by Worringer, whose influential book Abstraction and Empathy (Abstraktion und Einfühlung, 1908), provided a theoretical basis for the emerging Expressionist style in relation to new German art.26 Or, perhaps in a judgment that anticipated Fechter’s later insistence that Expressionism was founded on strongly Germanic roots, Fry ultimately adopted the term ‘Post-Impressionism’ since it was free of any Germanic connotations. If this were the case, then Fry could perhaps be credited with inadvertently establishing a nationalist division between (French) Post-Impressionism and (German) Expressionism – a curatorial distinction that unforeseeably fostered inconsistent definitions of the latter style in Great Britain during the early twentieth century.27

Interestingly, Manet and the Post-Impressionists, like The Blue Rider Group exhibition some fifty years later, was a public failure, insofar as the contemporary critical press in London was concerned.28 In this regard, it is ostensible that Londoners were resistant to any mode of modernism in 1910 which was focused on continental painters, including French or Francophile artists. Fry seems to have been cognizant of this negative criticism when he organized his next show, The Second Post-Impressionist Exhibition, which opened at the Grafton Galleries in 1912. Unlike the first exhibition, the second included works by contemporary British artists, such as Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, in an effort to cast a positivistic light on Post-Impressionist ideologies and iconographies that had been adopted and espoused by native artists.29 As such, the second exhibition was cleverly aimed at illustrating the widespread effects of Post-Impressionism beyond France. Fry’s curatorial efforts to ‘educate the British public into accepting these “Post-Impressionists” as serious artists’ seems to have taken root by 1912, since critics who reviewed The Second Post-Impressionist Exhibition were now responding favourably to paintings by Cézanne, whom they had disparaged just two years prior.30 In addition to contemporary British painting, the second exhibition included works by Russian artists, though none by Kandinsky.31 A version of this exhibition later opened at the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts (RGI) in 1913, showing works by Cézanne and Matisse, and at Edinburgh’s Society of Scottish Artists (SSA), where paintings by Cézanne, Gauguin, Matisse, Picasso and Van Gogh were presented to the public.32 Between 1915 and 1928, at least seven more Scottish exhibitions which were centred on French modernism – including works by Post-Impressionists, Fauvists, Cubists and the Nabis – appeared at the RSA and SSA in Edinburgh, and in Glasgow at the RGI and Alexander Reid’s modern art gallery, which Reid – a Scottish art dealer and Francophile – had tellingly named La Société des Beaux-Arts.33

When works by Expressionists first appeared in British exhibitions, it was in Edinburgh, not London. In particular, the SSA organized a show in 1928 that included works by Austrian artists associated with the Wiener Werkstätte (Viennese Workshops) and the Vienna Secession, as well as paintings by German Expressionists from the private collection of Sir Michael Ernest Sadler, one of the first English collectors to acquire modern paintings by Kandinsky, whom Sadler and his son, the novelist Michael Sadleir (note the altered surname) had met in Munich in 1913.34 The elder Sadler, who was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds from 1911 until 1923, had made his modern art collection available to the public in Leeds prior to World War I, though access to Kandinsky’s paintings in this little-known private collection cannot quite be compared to the presentation (or lack thereof) of German modernists in national exhibitions prior to 1928.35 Sadleir, like his father, was equally instrumental in attempting to disseminate the ideology of Der Blaue Reiter in Great Britain, and he importantly provided the first English translation of Kandinsky’s Concerning the Spiritual in Art (Über das Geistige in der Kunst, 1911) in 1914.36 This interest in German modern art was short-lived, however, as subsequent English and Scottish exhibitions of the 1920s and 1930s that focused on foreign artists were almost exclusively centred on French painters. The New Burlington Galleries in London (and later, the SSA) did showcase ten paintings by Max Ernst in the summer of 1936 in their International Surrealist Exhibition, a show organized by a committee comprised of André Breton, Paul Éluard, Henry Moore, Man Ray and Herbert Read, among others. This was the first exhibition of Surrealist art in Great Britain and, given Breton’s and Éluard’s involvement, it focused primarily on French artists.37

The 1938 Twentieth-Century German Art exhibition, which opened at the New Burlington Galleries, and which travelled in 1939 to the McLellan Galleries in Glasgow, was arguably the first, major UK exhibition to present works by German modernists to the public at large.38 Rather than focusing on one particular artistic group, as The Blue Rider Group exhibition would later do, Twentieth-Century German Art assembled works from nearly all of the early twentieth-century German avant-garde groups, including Die Brücke, Der Blaue Reiter and the Neue Sachlichkeit (The New Objectivity), as well as from interlocutors like Ernst Barlach and Käthe Kollwitz.39 According to Weikop, Sir Herbert Read – the influential English poet and art critic – was instrumental in championing German modern art in Great Britain during the inter-war period.40 In reviewing the critical literature on Read’s Twentieth-Century German Art exhibition, Weikop has convincingly demonstrated that contemporary critics who were accustomed to French modernism were quick to compare German artists to their French counterparts in both positive and damning critiques.41 Read maintained, furthermore, that his exhibition was not intended to serve as politicized, anti-Nazi propaganda: a point that needed to be made, given that the Nazis’ infamous Degenerate Art (Entartete Kunst) exhibition, which opened in Munich in July 1937, was still travelling across Germany; even so, Adolf Hitler’s condemnation of the ‘London counter-exhibition’ was eagerly discussed, as such, by the British press.42

The positive critical attention afforded to the Twentieth-Century German Art exhibition was perhaps one reason for the show’s overwhelming popularity, which caused it to be extended in London before moving to the RSA the following year. By contrast, the reality facing contemporary Germanic artists exiled in Great Britain before and during World War II was not so uniformly positive. Between 1933 and 1945, approximately 300 artists – mostly from Germany and Austria, and many of whom had been included in the Nazis’ Degenerate Art show – emigrated to Great Britain in the hope of permanently residing in their newly adopted country, or at the very least, staying there during the war years.43 This number is relatively small when compared to the hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers from Central Europe who came to Great Britain prior to the war alone.44 A few of these refugee artists were not granted immediate freedoms, but instead, had narrowly escaped Nazi concentration camps only to find themselves in British transit or internment camps, having been labelled ‘friendly enemy aliens’.45 Shulamith Behr and Sander Gilman have recently argued, rather persuasively, that despite the tendency to gloss over this ‘multilayered, albeit tragic, history of visual culture’, the ‘exile milieu’ nevertheless greatly affected the development and nature of modern British art, as well as the broader reception of modern art in Great Britain, during the 1930s and 1940s.46

Following the 1938 Twentieth-Century German Art exhibition, the Leicester Museum and Art Gallery (now the New Walk Museum and Art Gallery) was next to launch an exhibition during the war period that highlighted German modernism, especially Expressionism. The show, titled Mid-European Art, was arranged in 1944 by Trevor Thomas, then director of the museum, and included a number of works from private collections that had been brought to Great Britain in the 1930s by German refugee artists, historians and collectors. In 1953, the Leicester Museum organized another important exhibition of German Expressionism: in this instance, a solo show devoted to graphic works by Brücke artist Karl Schmidt-Rottluff from the private collection of Rosa Shapire, an art historian who fled Nazi Germany for England in 1939.47 According to reviews in the contemporary British and German critical presses, the Leicester exhibition was a public success.48 Three years later, during the summer of 1956, the Tate Gallery unveiled a major retrospective of German art titled A Hundred Years of German Painting. This was the first exhibition at the Tate to highlight German modernism (though not Der Blaue Reiter exclusively). The show was sponsored by the West German Government, and was arranged by Alfred Hentzen, then director of the Hamburger Kunsthalle. According to John Rothenstein, director of the Tate from 1938 until 1964, the retrospective was meant to examine a century of German art – which was still little-known throughout the UK – beginning with Biedermeier painting and moving quickly through the late nineteenth century in order to feature works by early twentieth-century artists.49

A review of A Hundred Years of German Painting by Hans Hess appeared in the June 1956 issue of The Burlington Magazine. Hess, then assistant curator under Thomas at the Leicester Museum, was a German émigré whose father, Alfred Hess, had been an important collector of then-contemporary Expressionist art while the family was still living in Germany prior to World War II. The younger Hess was subsequently one of the few scholars residing in Great Britain who was not only an advocate of German modernism, but also a British fine arts administrator who, like Sadler and others, owned works by Brücke and Blaue Reiter artists. In his critique of the show, Hess praised Hentzen and the Tate for providing the ‘first opportunity in England to judge the contribution of German painters to the art of the last 100 years’.50 It is clear, however, that Hess was less interested in the first fifty years of German art, since he devotes the majority of his essay to the German avant-gardes, including Die Brücke, Der Blaue Reiter, and the Bauhaus. The favouritism shown to modern art was likewise reflected in the exhibition, given that the Tate had reserved most of its gallery space for these twentieth-century movements. Despite Hess’s overall praise of A Hundred Years of German Painting and his conspicuous partiality for German modernism, he nevertheless chastised the Tate for neglecting artists like Max Pechstein (a member of Die Brücke) and George Grosz and Otto Dix (two Neue Sachlichkeit artists). Hess additionally argued that the exhibition unfortunately left viewers with the impression that ‘Expressionism found many practitioners but few masters’.51

Interestingly, Hess believed that paintings in the retrospective benefited enormously from having been hung in close proximity to the Tate’s collection of ‘corresponding French and English contemporaries’.52 ‘That such comparison has now become possible’, wrote Hess, ‘is a sufficient reason for our gratitude’.53 This closing remark was not, I believe, meant to admonish German painting, or suggest that it should adopt a deferential position in relation to French modernism, or vice versa. Rather, it reveals that German art was simply not widely available in British institutions at mid-century, and also exposes the degree to which British critics were preconditioned to compare German art to French (and to a lesser degree, British) painting. In what now seems like a prophetic statement, Hess posited that ‘the exhibition might usefully be followed up by smaller exhibitions devoted to single groups or artists’.54 The Marlborough Gallery in London partially responded to this charge, mounting a 1959 exhibition of German modern art titled Art in Revolt: Germany, 1905–1925, and a subsequent show devoted to oil paintings by Gabriele Münter, which opened in September 1960 and thus coincided with the opening of The Blue Rider Group at the Tate.55 However important to the historiography of exhibitions devoted to German modernism in Great Britain, these Marlborough exhibitions did not focus on a single avant-garde group, nor Der Blaue Reiter, in particular. To redress this latter point, the Arts Council and the EIF Society thus organized The Blue Rider Group exhibition.

The Francophilic critical reception of The Blue Rider Group

When The Blue Rider Group opened at the RSA in the summer of 1960, it was heralded as a great success by the Festival Society, not only for the fact that it was the first exhibition of its kind in the UK to provide a concentrated study of Der Blaue Reiter, but for Röthel’s admirable selection of works and curatorial prowess. On 20 August 1960, a somewhat sympathetic art critic for The Times wrote that the RSA exhibition was not only ‘hung with exceptional clarity and care for detail’, but that the show was ‘in subject an event’, given that the last exhibition of the group – the 1949 Blaue Reiter retrospective in Munich – had taken place some eleven years earlier.56 Of all the artists represented in The Blue Rider Group – which included Albert Bloch, David Burliuk, Heinrich Campendonk, Alexej von Jawlensky, Eugen von Kahler, Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Alfred Kubin, Macke, Marc, Münter, Jean Bloé Niestlé, Arnold Schönberg, and Marianne Werefkin – The Times’ critic identified Kandinsky, Klee, Macke and Münter as specifically noteworthy artists, stating that Kandinsky’s and Klee’s respective works held a prominent place in the development of modern art. Klee’s In the Houses of St. Germain (In den Häusern v. St. Germain, 1914, figure 7.4), which reveals the artist’s signature, colour-field patterning of the Tunisian landscape, was one such laudable example in the exhibition. To stress the lasting legacy of Der Blaue Reiter, particularly at the Bauhaus, the critic likewise proclaimed that members of the group ‘did not find, they searched’.57 While this statement seemingly positions Der Blaue Reiter as an equally important German philosophical movement of the early twentieth century, it was not offered as an altogether positive evaluation of the group: a point made clearer when the critic later argues that paintings by Der Blaue Reiter at the RSA regrettably ‘do not represent the sort of confident, daring achievement that a comparable collection of Parisian work of the same date would provide. Nor have they the explosive impact of the “Brücke” painters’.58 This contention is striking, not only for its desire to once more compare Der Blaue Reiter to French modernists, but to equally pit Der Blaue Reiter against Die Brücke, and through blatantly hegemonic terms.

The Francophilic legacy of the development of European modern art likewise found its way into the language of subsequent reviews that appeared in the London press when The Blue Rider Group moved to the Tate on 30 September 1960. The earliest of these critiques was published in The Times on opening day, and was subsequently influential in setting the tone for the less-than-positive London critiques that followed. The review, which adopted the aforementioned belief that Der Blaue Reiter was ‘more interesting historically than artistically’, was not altogether damning, as the author did concede that The Blue Rider Group was ‘an important exhibition, nevertheless, if only for the way it shows the context in which Kandinsky’s rapid epoch-making evolution of abstraction took place’.59 Here, one might surmise that the critic was visually responding to the artist’s movement away from figuration, evident in Riding Couple (Reitendes Paar, 1906/07, figure 7.5), and towards more abstracted, colour-based landscapes, as witnessed in Improvisation. Gorge.

7.4 Paul Klee, In the Houses of St. Germain, 1914.

This praise for Kandinsky’s oeuvre is brief, as the critic was quick to offer what they believed was the overarching shortcoming of the exhibition: that it isolated Der Blaue Reiter from Die Brücke and French modern art. The critic wrote accordingly:

It must always be slightly misleading to show the Blaue Reiter painters by themselves. Personal relationships kept the Munich artists together. … But they were a mixed bunch stylistically, eager to stress their international outlook, and the only two group exhibitions that ever took place found room for Braque, Delaunay, Picasso, Derain, and all the members of Die Brücke, with no more ‘programme’ to unite them than a bright trust in the future and what Kandinsky was to call ‘the spiritual in art’. The result, with Marc and Macke picking up Parisian ideas and Klee not yet into his stride, is paradoxically to make their work look more provincial than that of the belligerently nationalist Die Brücke.60

7.5 Wassily Kandinsky, Riding Couple, 1906.

Unlike The Times’earlier (August) review of the show, which praised Die Brücke over Der Blaue Reiter, the author here dismisses Die Brücke as both ‘belligerently nationalist’ and only slightly less provincial than Der Blaue Reiter. The belief that members of Der Blaue Reiter were ‘more interesting historically than artistically’ seems therefore to stress that the greatest contribution of the exhibition was to provide a historical or chronological examination of Expressionism’s push towards abstraction.

In Hoffmann’s Burlington Magazine critique, published in November, the emphasis on the group’s early exploration of abstract painting was, in her differing opinion, one of the major weaknesses of the Tate exhibition. As such, she offered the following criticism of images in The Blue Rider Group:

To see the feeble beginnings of a painter of whose later achievements one knows or appreciates very little is hardly exciting. A few more really mature, original works would have opened more eyes than a scholarly approach which only few can share. … The conviction, so widespread in this country, that the Blaue Reiter deserves attention only because it was the cradle of abstract art, while it produced few good paintings, was further strengthened by the emphasis on Kandinsky, the most intellectual member of the group, but not its greatest painter. Only a collection of the best works of the period could have shaken that belief.61

In this passage, Hoffmann derides the exhibition for being too intellectually minded, speaking only to the erudite few who were already familiar with Der Blaue Reiter and, even worse still, for presenting mediocre works to an expectant (though unapprised) public. Ironically, much of the current scholarship on Der Blaue Reiter emphasizes this very claim, offering that Kandinsky and others were deeply interested in originating and promulgating theories of art, as much as modes of art-making, and yet Hoffmann’s argument reinforces the notion that Kandinsky should be remembered as a great pioneer in the historiography of modern art, but not one of its greatest practitioners.62

These attitudes are likewise to be found in a slightly earlier review of the exhibition penned by David Sylvester, then art critic for the New Statesman. In his critique, Sylvester reveals his open disdain for Kandinsky’s paintings:

Certainly the most problematical of the Blaue Reiter artists, perhaps of all modern artists, is Kandinsky. By any normal standards of good painting – any normal standards, German as well as French – Kandinsky makes it difficult for us to take him seriously as a painter. The want of presence and density in his shapes and colours gives them a slightly sickening effect. … It is as if we were in a small boat out in a rocky sea. Kandinsky talked of creating a concrete art; concreteness is the thing his art lacks most of all.63

One might presuppose that Sylvester was here referencing any number of Kandinsky’s abstracted compositions that hung in the Tate galleries, including Improvisation. Gorge, which apparently caused Sylvester to suffer, at least figuratively, from visual nausea. Sylvester, who was swift to explain what the Tate had done wrong in The Blue Rider Group, was also as quick to suggest changes that would, in his opinion, strengthen the overall exhibition. He argued that the three strongest personalities in the group – Kandinsky, Klee and Schönberg – be omitted entirely from the show, thus allowing the ‘Fauvist-like’ painters – Campendonk, Macke, Marc and Münter – to reveal a common French-inspired style among a group of artists that, for all intents and purposes, lacked a unified aesthetic.64 Most telling in this assessment is the understanding that Sylvester’s distaste for the exhibition was predicated on his dislike of those Blaue Reiter artists who explored abstraction and a wholly ‘Germanic’ sensibility. Instead, Sylvester favours individuals who painted in a ‘French’ or ‘Fauvist’ manner, which he ironically celebrates in a review of non-French art.

Hoffmann similarly argued that The Blue Rider Group at the Tate should have presented the group ‘in its European context: one or two examples of Art Nouveau next to Kandinsky, a few paintings by Matisse, Delaunay, and the Futurists in the Marc section, a Seurat sketch close to Macke, and some Bavarian folk art in the neighbourhood of Gabriele Münter’.65 With the exception of Southern German folk painting and the Italian Futurists, each of the artists or styles that Hoffmann cites are French, and each, according to the historian, were immensely important to Blaue Reiter artists, as well as to the group’s overall position in the history of modern art. With regard to Marc’s Nude with Cat, she states that the viewer can easily discern the unmistakable influence of Matisse’s bold use of colour and line in the painting.66 Even the organic arabesques found in Marc’s Deer in the Snow II (Rehe im Schnee II, 1911, figure 7.6) are seen to reflect, in Hoffmann’s assessment, the artist’s interest in ‘Art Nouveau curves’.67 Here, I want to posit that Hoffmann deliberately chose to employ the French art nouveau, as opposed to its German equivalent Jugendstil, in order to directly connect paintings by Marc to decidedly French art, rather than German Jugendstil or the curving forms found in works by the Wiener Werkstätte. Hoffmann, like the author of the August review in The Times, does praise works by Macke, but argues that his strongest paintings were not included in the exhibition; and when she discusses a commendable canvas by Macke, such as Promenade, she maintains that the artist unequivocally reveals his debt to Delaunay and Georges Seurat, whose pointillist ‘skittle-shaped’ silhouettes she identifies in Macke’s work from 1913.68

Hoffmann’s aversion to the Tate show did not simply extend to the absence of French modern art in comparison to ‘feeble’ works by Der Blaue Reiter, but to the exhibition’s lacklustre exploration of abstraction. On this point, Hoffmann believed that the show conspicuously revealed how Kandinsky’s post-1910 paintings failed to abandon semblances of figuration, even after he had ‘discovered’ purely abstract painting.69 If we turn to Kandinsky’s own musings on this alleged conundrum, we discover that his desire was not to completely abandon representation in favour of abstract form but, rather, to merge these two seemingly contradictory approaches into a single, dialectical image. In 1914, Kandinsky offered the following explanation for his artwork:

I felt dimly that a picture can be something other than a beautiful landscape, an interesting and picturesque scene, or the portrayal of a person. Because I loved colours more than anything else, I thought even then, however confusedly, of colour composition, and sought that objective element which could justify the colours. … Objects began gradually to dissolve more and more in my pictures. This can be seen in nearly all the pictures of 1910. As yet, objects did not want to, and were not to, disappear altogether from my pictures.70

7.6 Franz Marc, Deer in Snow II, 1911.

In this passage, Kandinsky’s words certainly help to legitimize his artistic agenda in the early years of the twentieth century. This conceptualization of Kandinsky’s oeuvre can, moreover, be discovered in Röthel’s ekphrasis of Improvisation. Gorge, in which the art historian identifies among the painting’s abstracted forms the semblances of ‘a man and a woman dressed in Bavarian costume, standing on a landing-stage, beneath which two canoes are passing, with their oars jutting up into the air’.71 Kandinsky’s and Röthel’s words respectively reveal, however unintentionally, the very crux of the artist’s exploration of modernist compositions, given that objects in his abstract paintings were not meant to altogether disappear from the world of representation. However, through this desire to philosophize form, Kandinsky, according to the London critic, had undermined his paintings; but as Der Blaue Reiter’s most dominant personality (Hoffmann mockingly refers to him as ‘the Great Man’ in her essay), Kandinsky was justifiably given the highest place of honour in the Tate show, and rightfully so, since he was the group’s co-founder and leading theorist.72 And yet those in the critical press, including Hoffmann, were seemingly disinterested in the history of Der Blaue Reiter, its formation, or its leadership when they uniformly concluded that The Blue Rider Group exhibition was a failed curatorial project.

Like Sylvester, Hoffmann devises a strategy for strengthening the exhibition, though in her version of the show, Kandinsky’s purely abstract painting would be highlighted alongside Marc’s later works (c. 1914) and Klee’s more novel and ‘interesting’ pieces.73 With regard to Marc’s oeuvre, she states that ‘real harm was done’ by the omission of his late paintings where animals and landscape merge into a single pictorial facet, arguing further that ‘no just valuation of the artist is possible’ without these canvases.74 In this hypothetical, Hoffmannian exhibition, Kandinsky’s Improvisation. Gorge, which is not a ‘purely’ abstract painting, and Marc’s Nude with Cat, which is not one of the artist’s late canvases, would not survive the historian’s editorial guillotine. The Times’ critic for the Tate venue likewise would have cut Kandinsky’s Riding Couple from the show, arguing that the painting was nothing more than a ‘fairy-tale illustration and mawkish fantasy’.75 If any of these critics – Hoffmann, Sylvester or the various reviewers for The Times – had ultimately had curatorial control, it is clear that they would have organized a completely different exhibition, and one in which Kandinsky – arguably the group’s most recognizable member – played a surprisingly minor role.

One wonders if Hoffmann, while still a strong supporter of Expressionism and particularly the works of the Austrian Expressionist painter and playwright Oskar Kokoschka, was simply not a Blaue Reiter enthusiast, particularly when compared to her interest in other, early twentieth-century Germanic avant-garde groups. To this point, Hoffmann made only two cursory references to Der Blaue Reiter in a review published a decade earlier for the Expressionism from Van Gogh to Picasso exhibition, which had been organized in 1949 by the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Of the German Expressionists represented in this Dutch exhibition, Hoffmann principally discusses Max Beckmann, Erich Heckel, Kokoschka, Modersohn-Becker, Emil Nolde and Schmidt-Rottluff. With regard to Der Blaue Reiter, she singles out Kandinsky and Jawlensky alone, reminding her readers that ‘the deepest outside influence on the Expressionists of Southern Germany did not come from France but from Russia’.76 Despite this emphatic declaration, she paradoxically shifts the focus away from Russia in her November 1960 review of The Blue Rider Group, and instead identifies a strong dialogue between the French Fauves and Jawlensky, who Peter Selz declared (as early as 1957) was never officially a member of Der Blaue Reiter in the first place.77 Based on Hoffmann’s post-war critiques of Expressionism, one might surmise that her curatorial model was essentially one in which an ‘effective’ exhibition allowed viewers to visually compare and contrast works of art created by various artists, and from differing international schools. In truth, it appears that critics like Sylvester and Hoffmann were only willing to analyse Der Blaue Reiter in relation to, or thus in direct comparison with, other modernists and the various ‘isms’ that comprise late nineteenth and early twentieth-century French painting. In this way, when London critics did praise works in The Blue Rider Group exhibition, they almost uniformly favoured those artists who had either studied in France or with French painters, and whose canvases were seen to be in dialogue with French modern art. Given that Der Blaue Reiter had historically stressed its international outlook, this criticism of the group in the London press essentially asked British audiences to consider whether or not Blaue Reiter painters could effectively be shown, as one critic put it, ‘by themselves’ – offering in the end, that they could not.

In reviewing the contemporary critical literature on The Blue Rider Group exhibition, I have attempted to illustrate how the ‘curatorial Francophilia’ adopted by London critics at mid-century made them unwilling to conceive of Der Blaue Reiter as an aesthetically independent artistic group, particularly when divorced from the context of French modernism. One could paradoxically question whether this Francocentric conception of the group was, in fact, indebted to the curatorial cosmopolitanism espoused by Der Blaue Reiter from its inception. For example, in Marc’s 1911 essay ‘Die “Wilden” Deutschlands’ (first published in the 1912 almanac, and routinely translated as ‘The “Savages” of Germany’), the artist argued that German modern artists – or ‘savages’ – who sought a deeper, mystical experience in a work of art, had, in truth, looked to the ‘liberating influence’ of modern French and Russian painters.78 If one translates ‘Wilden’ as ‘Fauves’, as recent scholars have done, then Marc’s words may suggest that Der Blaue Reiter was always meant to be analysed within the context of French modernism, particularly if one conceives of his essay as a synecdoche for the overall ideology and material output of the group.79

As a closing thought, let us contemplate whether or not The Blue Rider Group was innovative in showcasing works by Blaue Reiter artists ‘by themselves’ (and for the first time in history), or guilty of perpetuating (however unintentionally) a Francophilic understanding of Expressionism, just as Blaue Reiter artists were being introduced to Britain museumgoers. Regardless of the answer, it is clear that by isolating Der Blaue Reiter from its ‘European context’, the organizers of The Blue Rider Group did something that had never been done before: they placed traditional, curatorial parameters around a loosely defined group of artists that lacked a common aesthetic, and in so doing, inadvertently persuaded individuals to view this group as though it were a stylistically cohesive and collective movement. Believing that the exhibition’s organizers had offered the public a misperception of Der Blaue Reiter and its artistic output, London reviewers – who nevertheless revealed a continued bias for French modern art – were quick to remind their readers that Blaue Reiter artists had not lived in an aesthetic bubble, but rather, in a multicultural and cosmopolitan milieu. At the end of the day, these English critics wanted to see a ‘masterpiece’ by Matisse hanging next to a ‘mediocre’ painting by Marc. But in so doing, would they seek to transform Der Blaue Reiter into Le cavalier bleu? C’est possible.


1‘Painters with Ideas: The Blaue Reiter Group’, The Times (30 September 1960), p. 16.

2For a review of the Haus der Deutschen Kunst exhibition, see J. A. Thwaites, ‘The Blaue Reiter in Munich’, The Burlington Magazine, 91:599 (1949), pp. 290–3.

3R. Ponsonby, ‘Foreword’, in The Blue Rider Group, exhib. cat. (Edinburgh: Royal Scottish Academy, 1960), p. 3. Two slightly different versions of the catalogue were published for the exhibition. The earliest publication includes Ponsonby’s foreword and was available during the EIF, while the second version of the catalogue, which features a foreword by Gabriel White (of the Arts Council of Great Britain), was available at the Tate Gallery in the autumn of 1960. See The Blue Rider Group, exhib. cat. (London: Tate Gallery, 1960). Both versions of the catalogue reproduced an introductory essay by Hans Konrad Röthel, as well as the complete catalogue of works in the exhibition. In addition, Kandinsky’s Cossacks is listed as Study for Composition IV in these catalogues.

4The Städtische Galerie lent 111 of the total 227 works to The Blue Rider Group exhibition. See ‘Catalogue’, in The Blue Rider Group, pp. 13–22.

5In her review of the 1960 exhibition, Edith Hoffmann discusses the notoriety of Blaue Reiter members, including Kandinsky, Marc and Paul Klee. See E. Hoffmann, ‘The “Blaue Reiter” at the Tate Gallery’, The Burlington Magazine, 102:692 (1960), p. 498.

6‘Painters with Ideas’, The Times, p. 16.

7Hoffmann, ‘The “Blaue Reiter” at the Tate Gallery’, p. 498.


9See W. Worringer, ‘The Historical Development of Modern Art’, in R-C. Washton Long (ed.), German Expressionism: Documents from the End of the Wilhelmine Empire to the Rise of National Socialism (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1993), pp. 9–12.

10To review works included in these respective exhibitions, see Internationale Kunstausstellung des Sonderbundes Westdeutscher Kunstfreunde und Künstler zu Cöln, exhib. cat. (Cöln am Rhein: M. Dumont Schauberg, 1912); and H. Walden, Erster deutscher Herbstsalon, exhib. cat. (Berlin: Der Sturm, 1913).

11For Fechter’s discussion of the Germanic roots of Expressionism, see P. Fechter, Der Expressionismus (Munich: R. Piper & Co., 1914), pp. 21–9.

12See E. L. Kirchner, ‘Chronik der Brücke’, in Washton Long (ed.), German Expressionism, pp. 22–6. See also T. O. Benson, ‘Brücke, French Art and German National Identity’, in C. Weikop (ed.), New Perspectives on Brücke Expressionism: Bridging History (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2011), p. 46.

13Benson has discussed the fact that Kirchner’s fellow group members did not share his views expressed in the Chronik, which eventually led to the disbanding of Die Brücke in 1913. See Benson, ‘Brücke, French Art and German National Identity’, p. 46.

14See H. K. Röthel, ‘Introduction’, in The Blue Rider Group, pp. 5–12.

15I would direct the reader’s attention to Peter Vergo’s and Jessica Horsely’s respective chapters in this volume, as each of these authors discuss the nature, scope and art historical significance of the almanach.

16C. Weikop, ‘The British Reception of Brücke and German Expressionism’, in New Perspectives on Brücke Expressionism, p. 248.

17At the mid-century, the National Galleries of Scotland had organized exhibitions that included works by Oskar Kokoschka in 1941 and 1942, and the Society of Scottish Arts displayed works by Die Brücke and Der Blaue Reiter in 1950. See K. Hartley, Scottish Art since 1900 (Edinburgh: National Galleries of Scotland, 1989), p. 175.

18‘Auguste Rodin HRSA’, Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851–1951, University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, online database: http://sculpture.gla.ac.uk/view/person.php?id=msib6_1210849605, accessed 23 September 2012.

19See Hartley, Scottish Art since 1900, pp. 171–2; and ‘Max Klinger’, Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851–1951, University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, online database: http://sculpture.gla.ac.uk/view/person.php?id=msib6_1213116382, accessed 23 September 2012.

20M. Potter, ‘Cambridge University and the Germanist Bridge: The Aesthetics and Politics of Internationalism at the Fin de Siècle’, in G. Brockington (ed.), Internationalism and the Arts in Britain and Europe at the Fin de Siècle (Oxford, Bern: Peter Lang, 2009), p. 176.

21See the museum records for Objects 2117, 2118 and P. 67–1943 in the Fitzwilliam Museum’s online database: http://webapps.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/explorer/index.php?qu=adolph+menzel&Oop=OR&Fma=&Fpp=&Fmt=&Fob=&Fds=&Fdst=AD&Fde=&Fdet=AD&Oaa=true&Oat=true&do=Search, accessed 15 July 2018.

22For a review of works in this exhibition, see I. Spielmann, Souvenir of the Fine Art Section, Franco-British Exhibition (London: Bemrose and Sons, 1908).

23See C. A. Donnell, ‘The Problem of Representation and Expressionism in Post-Impressionist Art’, British Journal of Aesthetics, 15:3 (1975), p. 237, n1.

24See R. Fry and D. MacCarthy, Manet and the Post-Impressionists (London: Grafton Galleries, 1910). See also Donnell, ‘The Problem of Representation and Expressionism in Post-Impressionist Art’, p. 227; and Weikop, ‘The British reception of Brücke and German Expressionism’, pp. 249–50.

25Weikop, ‘The British Reception of Brücke and German Expressionism’, pp. 248–51.

26See W. Worringer, Abstraktion und Einfühlung. Ein Beitrag zur Stilpsychologie (Munich: R. Piper & Co., 1908). See also R-C. Washton Long, ‘Brücke, German Expressionism and the Issue of Modernism’, in New Perspectives on Brücke Expressionism, pp. 12–13.

27See Donnell, ‘The Problem of Representation and Expressionism in Post-Impressionist Art’, p. 227; and M. Werenskiold, The Concept of Expressionism: Origin and Metamorphoses (Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, 1984), pp. 13–25. Timothy O. Benson also discusses the historiography of the term ‘Expressionism’, in Benson, ‘Brücke, French Art and German National Identity’, pp. 45–6.

28See C. Reed (ed.), A Roger Fry Reader (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), p. 50.

29Ibid., p. 54.

30Weikop, ‘The British Reception of Brücke and German Expressionism’, p. 250. Regarding the reception of Cézanne’s works, see Reed (ed.), A Roger Fry Reader, p. 54.

31The checklist for the exhibition reveals that works by Kandinsky were not included in the show. See R. Fry, The Second Post-Impressionist Exhibition, exhib. cat. (London: Grafton Galleries, 1912).

32See Hartley, Scottish Art since 1900, p. 172.

33Ibid.; and F. Fowle, Van Gogh’s Twin: The Scottish Art Dealer Alexander Reid, 1854–1928 (Edinburgh: National Galleries of Scotland, 2011).

34See T. Steele, Alfred Orage and the Leeds Arts Club (1893–1923) (Aldershot: Orage Press, 1990), p. 179. Sadler’s son, Michael Sadleir, had changed his last name so as not to be confused with his father.

35See M. T. Saler, Avant-Garde in Interwar England: Medieval Modernism and the London Underground (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), p. 52.

36See Saler, Avant-Garde in Interwar England, pp. 51–2. For Sadleir’s translation of Kandinsky’s essay, see W. Kandinsky, Concerning the Spiritual in Art, trans. M. T. H. Sadleir (London: Tate, 2006).

37For the exhibition catalogue, which is devoid of reproductions, see The International Surrealist Exhibition, exhib. cat. (London: New Burlington Galleries, 1936). The exhibition later travelled in 1937 to the Society of Scottish Artists. See Hartley, Scottish Art since 1900, p. 174.

38For the travelling schedule of the Twentieth-Century German Art exhibition, see Hartley, Scottish Art since 1900, p. 174.

39See Exhibition of Twentieth-Century German Art, exhib. cat. (London: New Burlington Galleries, 1938).

40I am grateful to Christian Weikop for bringing Herbert Read to my attention. For Read’s role in promoting German modern art in Great Britain, see Weikop, ‘The British Reception of Brücke and German Expressionism’, pp. 237–76.

41Ibid., p. 258.

42See H. Read, ‘Introduction’, in Exhibition of Twentieth-Century German Art, p. 6. Politicized reviews of the exhibition were printed in the summer of 1938 in newspapers such as The Daily Mirror, The Oxford Mail, and the Weekly Illustrated. See Weikop, ‘The British Reception of Brücke and German Expressionism’, p. 261. For the catalogue of works included in the Entartete Kunst exhibition, see S. Barron, Degenerate Art: The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1991).

43See R. Dickson and S. MacDougall, ‘Artists in Exile in Britain c. 1933–45’, in Forced Journeys: Artists in Exile in Britain c. 1933–45, exhib. cat. (London: The London Jewish Museum of Art, 2009), p. 18.

44See S. Barron, ‘European Artists in Exile: A Reading Between the Lines’, in S. Barron (ed.), Exiles + Emigrés: The Flight of European Artists from Hitler, exhib. cat. (Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art & Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1997), p. 15–16.

45See Forced Journeys, pp. 15–21; and Barron, ‘European Artists in Exile’, p. 16.

46S. Behr and S. Gilman, ‘Forced Journeys: An Introduction’, in Forced Journeys, p. 16.

47See J. Lloyd, ‘International Significance of the Collection’, Leicester’s German Expressionist Collection, Leicester Museums Website, pp. 19–20, online database: http://germanexpressionismleicester.org/leicesters-collection/academic-reports/academic-reports-on-the-collection/report-2-international-significance-of-the-collection/, accessed 16 July 2017.

48See Weikop, ‘The British Reception of Brücke and German Expressionism’, p. 275, n74.

49See J. Rothenstein, ‘Foreword’, in A Hundred Years of German Painting, exhib. cat. (London: Tate Gallery, 1956), p. 3.

50H. Hess, ‘Hundred Years of German Painting 1850–1950’, The Burlington Magazine 98:639 (1956), p. 203.

51Ibid., 204.




55See W. Grohmann, Art in Revolt: Germany, 1905–1925, exhib. cat. (London: Marlborough Fine Art, 1959); and H. K. Röthel, Gabriele Münter: Oil Paintings, 1903–1937, exhib. cat. (London: Marlborough Fine Art, 1960). The Marlborough Gallery also mounted additional post-war exhibitions of modern German art, including Kandinsky, the Road to Abstraction, held in 1961; and Painters of the Bauhaus, held in 1962. See H. K. Röthel, Kandinsky, the Road to Abstraction, exhib. cat. (London: Marlborough Fine Art, 1961); and W. Grohmann, Painters of the Bauhaus: Albers, Bayers, Feininger, Itten, Kandinsky, Klee, Moholy-Nagy, Muche, Schlemmer, exhib. cat. (London: Marlborough Fine Art, 1962).

56‘Blaue Reiter Artists: Fine Exhibition at Edinburgh’, The Times (20 August 1960), p. 4.



59‘Painters with Ideas’, The Times, p. 16.


61Hoffmann, ‘The “Blaue Reiter” at the Tate Gallery’, 498.

62See, for example, W. Kandinsky, ‘Der Blaue Reiter’, Das Kunstblatt, 14 (1930), p. 57; W. Kandinsky, Über das Geistige in der Kunst. Insbesondere in der Malerei (Munich: R. Piper & Co., 1911); W. Kandinsky, ‘On the Question of Form’, in Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc (eds), The Blaue Reiter Almanac. Documentary edition, ed. Klaus Lankheit, trans. H. Falkenstein (New York: Viking Press, 1974), pp. 147–86; and F. Marc, ‘Aphorisms’, in The Blue Rider Group, pp. 25–6.

63D. Sylvester, About Modern Art: Critical Essays 1948–96 (London: Pimlico Press, 2002), pp. 77–8. [Emphasis in original.]

64Sylvester, About Modern Art, p. 77.

65Hoffmann, ‘The “Blaue Reiter” at the Tate Gallery’, pp. 498, 501.

66Ibid., p. 501.




70W. Kandinsky, ‘The Cologne Lecture’, in C. Harrison and P. Wood (eds), Art in Theory, 1900–1990: An Anthology of Changing Ideas (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 1992), pp. 94–5.

71H. K. Röthel quoted in A. Zweite, The Blue Rider in the Lenbachhaus, Munich, trans. J. Ormrod (Munich: Prestel, 1989), p. 146.

72Hoffmann, ‘The “Blaue Reiter” at the Tate Gallery’, p. 501.



75‘Painters with Ideas’, The Times, p. 16.

76E. Hoffmann, ‘Expressionism at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam’, The Burlington Magazine, 91:561 (1949), p. 348.

77For Hoffmann’s discussion of Jawlensky, see Hoffmann, ‘The “Blaue Reiter” at the Tate Gallery’, p. 501. For Selz’s discussion of the artist, see P. Selz, ‘Jawlensky Not in Group’, College Art Journal, 17:1 (1957), p. 60.

78See F. Marc, ‘The “Savages” of Germany’, in Kandinsky and Marc (eds), The Blaue Reiter Almanac, pp. 61–4.

79N. Wolf, Expressionism (Cologne: Taschen, 2004), p. 19; and Zweite, The Blue Rider in the Lenbachhaus, p. 72.

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