Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, The Street, Dresden, 1908 Emil Nolde, The Last Supper, 1909
Learn more about these paintings by Kirchner’s The Street and Nolde’s Last Supper by clicking
the links.
The other group of German expressionists was Der Blaue Reiter (the Blue Rider), a group based in Munich
and led by the Russian-born artist Vasily Kandinsky and his friend Franz Marc. The group’s goal was to
discover the spiritual power in art, which they did by exploring the dynamics and symbolic significance of
pure color and line. Because Kandinsky wanted to create art that was purely spiritual, he made paintings
with little reference to recognizable objects. He felt that just as musical tones can produce feelings or
spiritual states without imitating sounds we hear in nature, working with color alone could do the same for
art. This was the first step toward nonobjective painting that many twentieth-century artists would adopt.
Vasily Kandinsky, Improvisation 28, 1912
In the first decade of the twentieth century in France, the fauves had similar ideas about how color, in and
of itself, could create emotional impact. Their ideas, however, derive from those of Gauguin and van
Gogh, and, like them, the fauves did not avoid recognizable subject matter. The fauves often painted
landscapes, cityscapes, or interior scenes that would not in themselves evoke a violent emotional
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