Der Blaue Reiter

A recent discovery of mine has been a group of artists that came together for a brief moment in time between 1911 and 1912 with a shared vision and faith of renewing spirituality within civilisation. When considering the topic of Utopia in my previous posts, I found myself particularly inspired by the ideology that they aspired to. The group was named Der Blaue Reiter, and together Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc, Picasso, Matisse, Klee, Bloch, Rousseau, Delaunay and others gathered with a similar vision, and consequently changed the face of 20th Century Art.

Kandinsky had left the New Association of Munich Artists in 1911, because his work was regarded and criticised as being too evolutionary. This is what prompted him to conceive the idea of this new era in art where very different works would both be celebrated alongside each other in the same exhibition. His aim supported by Marc, was to demonstrate that it is the living spirit of the artist that makes art, not the orthodox form.

Although the First World War was nearly upon them, these great artists visualised an art that did not emphasise where people came from or which territory they were defending, but rather the spirituality of humanity as a whole.  Der Blaue Reiter never progressed further than 1912, however once the post-war conservative times had lapsed, many reformists came out of the clockwork to embrace and adopt Kandinsky and Marc’s original revolutionary intentions to reveal and celebrate the diversity in humanity and the spiritual vision in art. The epiphany of a Utopian vision.


Vezin, L., & Vezin, A. (1992). Kandinsky and Der Blaue Reiter. (J.-C. Dubost, J.-F. Gonthier, Eds., & F. E. Ltd, Trans.) Paris: Finest S.A./Editions Pierre Terrail.


My Utopian Art Studio – searching for ideas

Following on from my previous post, I have researched more into the topic of Utopia and grasping the concept of an ecological utopia.  This could incorporate concepts such as organic architecture or lifestyles that are both more a kin to living in harmony with nature, and less dependent on western urbanization and into a more traditional way of living. Now this, I can resonate with.

Intentional communities all over the world are generally based on the utopian concept, which is improving the way humans live together. Members of these secular communities consisting of communes, farms, retreats and gypsy travelers of society have intentions of living the ideal lifestyle, in hope of peace and harmony with their neighbours and the land that provides for them.

When asked to imagine my ideal art studio within the sub-brief given in this project, my mind quickly led down a path that resonates with the utopian values of these traditional ways of living.  I considered how I might like to step into my teepee each morning to begin the day’s creative work in meditative communion with my creator, or a tree-house loft where I can retreat completely into the natural surroundings that nourish and sustain me.  However, my creative self preferred the idea of having a gypsy caravan wagon converted into an art studio and parked permanently in my home garden.  This utopian vision is influenced by my love of the bohemian style, colours, textiles and the simple life that gypsies embrace.  After being inspired by the eclectic vintage, rustic and contemporary designs of wagons and small dwellings (my favourite aspects seen above in these examples), I set off to design and build a model of my first visionary structure using wood as the media.

Small rooms or dwellings set the mind on the right path, large ones cause it to go astray – Leonardo de Vinci


Richardson, P. (2007). XS Green: Big Ideas, Small Buildings. London: Thames & Hudson.


photography by Vicky RussellOver the past 3 weeks, I have discovered that the more I researched architecture throughout the ages, the more became intrigued by the stories of the architects and the various movements that influenced the structures and spaces in the world, and therefore the more I have come to understand.  ‘Utopia’ is a particular word that I have recently come to know in relation to Art and Architecture, and here I will attempt to share my brief understanding of it and how I can consider the concept when developing my work in this project.

Architecture represents the cultural context of its time. By observing the spaces by which people have lived, studied, prayed and revered, we can learn about the values and ideals that they held. The buildings that were designed for various purposes held in themselves the impulse of Utopia – places and spaces that were desired and manifested to represent the ideals of those who had the vision.

In simple terms I understand the word ‘utopia’ to mean ‘The ideal or desirable’.  The utopian place, object or concept is seemingly ‘better than’ the current reality or norm.   The utopian impulse exists within many aspects of culture, society, politics, and philosophy and indeed also the world of art.  It is a future-orientated concept that physically cannot ever be attained, for there will always be greener grass elsewhere so to speak.  I find it easier to grasp the concept from my own human experience when considering my ideal and preferred way of seeing or being in the world.

Being a hopeless eternal optimist myself, I can dismiss the fact that utopia can never actually be attained yet still carry on in life with the utopian impulse through my thoughts and actions with the hope of an ideal way of being, way of living, or way of relating to others and my experience in this life. A quote that resonates with my own Utopian self is…

The most modern art discipline – social sculpture/social architecture – will only reach fruition when every living person becomes a creator, a sculptor, or architect of the social organism – Joseph Beuys

Certainly, if I believe that I can actually attempt to create the Utopian reality that I so desire, one could call me naive, unrealistic, dreaming or at best, idealistic. By aspiring to make my world a better place,  I continue to always live in a future-orientated reality.  But by accepting that my actual reality is all that I need and want it to be right now in this very moment, I am more likely to experience life in a way that ultimately nourishes and sustains me. I can make choices in my life that are in alignment with my values and conducive to my ideals and therefore make it so.

Furthermore, I will be mindful of how my own understanding of the utopian impulse influences my work in this project.


Goodreads. (2013). Quotes about Utopias. Retrieved June 22, 2103, from

Noble, R. (2009). Utopias. London: Whitechapel Gallery; Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.