In December 1941 the artist wrote in her diary: "Still life is [like] the piano—landscape is the orchestra" (quoted in Gabriele Münter, The Years of Expressionism 1903-1920 (exhibition catalogue), Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, 1998-99, p. 127). In Murnau, Münter and Kandinsky were also fascinated by the local tradition of Hinterglasmalerei (glass painting) which they discovered in the small town, and both artists experimented extensively with this medium. Münter's response to the jewel-like luminosity, simplified forms and fresh naïveté of this folk-art is particularly evident in works such as the present landscape.
Gartentoerl is a wonderful early example of Münter's explorations of color and texture and it provides evidence of the significant role she would play in the evolution of art in the decade that followed. Kandinsky and Münter together with fellow artists such as Alexej von Jawlensky, Franz Marc and August Macke founded the avant-garde movement Der Blaue Reiter in Munich. As is apparent in the present work, the group sought to liberate painting from the literal, figurative image of the world in order to reach a symbolic dimension, which unified man with the forces of nature, creating a universal, harmonious balance. Franz Marc explained: "Nature glows in our pictures as in every form of art. Nature is everywhere, in us and outside us; there is only one thing that is not altogether nature, but rather the overcoming and interpreting of nature: art. Art always has been and is in its very essence the boldest departure from nature and 'naturalness'. It is the bridge into the spirit world" (quoted in Peter Selz, German Expressionist Painting, Berkeley, 1974, p. 210).
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