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This book presents new research on the histories and legacies of the German Expressionist group, Der Blaue Reiter, the founding force behind modernist abstraction. For the first time Der Blaue Reiter is subjected to a variety of novel inter-disciplinary perspectives, ranging from a philosophical enquiry into its language and visual perception, to analyses of its gender dynamics, its reception at different historical junctures throughout the twentieth century, and its legacies for post-colonial aesthetic practices. The volume offers a new perspective on familiar aspects of Expressionism and abstraction, taking seriously the inheritance of modernism for the twenty-first century in ways that will help to recalibrate the field of Expressionist studies for future scholarship. Der Blaue Reiter still matters, the contributors argue, because the legacies of abstraction are still being debated by artists, writers, philosophers and cultural theorists today.
This chapter lays out the purpose and contents of the volume. It begins by sketching the origins of Der Blaue Reiter, which was formed in 1911 by Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc and Gabriele Münter after Kandinsky’s Composition V was rejected by the New Artists’ Association of Munich. It then introduces the other chapters, written by a mixture of established and emerging scholars, which examine the legacy of Der Blaue Reiter from a variety of perspectives.