Lesson Plan: Die Blaue Reiter und Die Brücke (The Blue Rider and The Bridge)


Time Allotment

4-5 50 minute class periods


  • Students will take a virtual tour through the Lenbachhaus, a museum focused on Expressionist art, in Munich, Germany, to learn about the Expressionist Movement.
  • Students will identify Expressionist art.
  • Students will critique examples of Expressionist art.
  • Students will create their own art piece in Expressionist style.

Learning Objectives

  • Students will be able to describe the Expressionist art movement in Germany.
  • Students will be able to identify the forces of the movement that relate to the social and political climate of the time period.
  • Students will be able to identify and critique examples of Expressionist art.
  • Students will demonstrate understanding of the principles of Expressionist art by creating their own example of Expressionist art.

Media Components - Video/Web

Digital Multimedia Program: Emaze
  1. Virtual museum tour of the Lenbachhaus in Munich, Germany Lenbachhaus Blaue Reiter
  2. Paintings of the Brandenburg Gate in various artistic styles
    • Brandenburg Gate 1790-1830 Brandenburg Gate 1790-1830
    • Brandenburg Gate 1812 Brandenburg Gate 1812
    • Brandenburg Gate 1929 Brandenburg Gate 1929
    • Source: PBS LearningMedia

  1. Video (10 minutes) Expressionism – The video shows many examples of Expressionist art as well as gives a description and explanation of the movement itself. I would narrate the film rather than using the narration provided. (see Film Notes)

  2. Source: YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dD5G9ZJFS9A&index=1&list=PL1qz-Hj9PBu-aWCbxP2xEsMifYC4YCRxc
  3. Video (9 minutes) Painting Movements Part XI Expressionism by Dr. Muth Omar – The video is not narrated, but is accompanied by The Blue Danube Waltz which seems a very strange choice. Once again, I would narrate the video.

  4. Source: YouTube: https://youtu.be/OZ0fH-zOkZI
  5. Video (57 minutes) Portions of PBS Art of the Western World Segments 8 and 9

  6. Source: PBS Annenberg Media, Art of the Western World Segments 8 and 9


  7. PLD’s – 1 per student
  8. Paints, brushes and canvas/paper – 1 set per student
  9. Introductory Activities

    Write a detailed narrative description of activities, discussions, or media-integrated exercises that introduce the lesson, direct students to targeted concepts or objectives, and introduce the lesson vocabulary. Divide each component of the Introductory Activity into numbered steps.
    Day One
    1. Artistic Movements or Periods – Using the multimedia program Emaze, I will show examples of art the students will likely be familiar with such as Graffiti Art and Anime, followed by a few examples from the Gothic, Classical, Realism and Romantic periods. (10 minutes)
    2. Expressionism – The discussion will then turn to what was going on in Germany in the beginning years of the 20th century, for example, imperial resistance to modern ideas, the bourgeois patronage of artists, the events leading to WWI and WWII. Examples of Expressionist art will be shown and students will give their reactions. The basic ideas of the genre, raw emotion, feelings, abstraction, use of color, etc., will be discussed. (15-20 minutes)
    3. Groups – Two groups of Expressionist painters, die Blaue Reiter and die Brücke, will be introduced. Where each group was located, Munich and Dresden respectively, how they lived and worked, as well as how the groups set themselves apart, allowing women to join, for example, will be discussed. (10 minutes)
    4. Video – Students will then view the video Expressionism. They will be instructed to choose a favorite or outstanding example of artwork shown in the film. (10 minutes)

    5. An alternative to using the video named above would be to use portions taken from PBS Art of the Western World Sections 8 and 9 or Painting Movements Section XI Expressionism by Dr. Muth Omar.

      Learning Activities

      Day Two
    6. Identify examples of Expressionism – Students will be shown examples of artwork depicting the same subject, the Brandenburg Gate for one example, but were painted in different styles. The students will pick out the Expressionist work and be able to explain why it falls into that movement. (10 minutes)
    7. Exploration – Students will search images of artwork by members of either Die Blaue Reiter or Die Brücke, Franz Marc, Wassily Kandinsky or Paul Klee, for example. They will choose a favorite, outstanding or disturbing example to share with the class. Students will use Google Slides to present the image. They will not only explain why they chose this example, but why the example is considered Expressionist art. (30 minutes)
    8. Preparation for culminating activity – Students will take, bring in or find a photo (must be a photo) of just about anything, but preferably something living and animated for class the next day. (10 minutes)
    9. Day Three
    10. Presentation – Students will share their choice of artwork including the artist, his/her group, why they chose it and why it is an example of Expressionist art. (20 minutes)
    11. Students will begin the culminating activity
    12. Culminating Activity

      Day Four
    13. Creating Expressionist Art – Students will have the entire hour to complete their painting. They will paint the image in their photo, but in Expressionist style, meaning they will attempt to paint how the image in the photo makes them feel and what emotions it evokes. A very intentional distinction will be made between other artistic periods (more realistic images, trying to exactly reproduce an image) and Expressionism (abstraction, bold, often garish use of color, heavy, dark lines, etc.). When finished, they will mount their work, name it and hang it in the hallway.
    14. Closure – As students are finishing and hanging their work, I will speak with individuals about their paintings to find out why they chose the subject, how they came up with a title and what makes it Expressionist art.

    Cross-Curricular Activity

    Students will be able to make connections in European History, Art, and any course where artistic movements in music, literature or architecture are addressed.

    Community Connections

    Students could potentially add their artwork to an existing art portfolio.