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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Marc, Franz


Foxes
1913
oil on canvas
87 x 65 cm
Kunstmuseum, Dusseldorf, Germany

Franz Marc (1880-1916) was a German painter, and one of the key figures of the German Expressionist movement. He was born in Munich, then the capital of the Kingdom of Bavaria. His father was a professional landscape painter; his mother was a strict Calvinist.

In 1900, he began to study at the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich. In 1903 and 1907, he spent time in France, particularly in Paris, visiting the city's museums and copying many paintings, a traditional way for artists to study and develop technique. In Paris, he frequented artistic circles and was able to meet artists, including the actress Sarah Bernhardt. He discovered a strong affinity for the work of Vincent van Gogh.
In 1910, he developed an important friendship with the artist August Macke.
In 1911, he founded the The Blue Rider (Der Blaue Reiter) journal, which became the center of an artist circle, along with Macke, Wassily Kandinsky, and others who had decided to split off from the Neue Kunstlervereinigung (New Artist's Association) movement.
In 1912, he met Robert Delaunay, whose use of color and futurist method was a major influence on his work; fascinated by futurism and cubism, he created art increasingly stark and abstract in nature.
But in August of 1914, at the outbreak of the war, he volunteered. Kandinsky visited him to say "Auf Wiedersehen." but he replied "Adieu." Within two months, his first personal indication of the war's magnitude occurred; August Macke died in battle in September at the age of twenty-seven. After mobilization of the German Army, the government identified notable artists to be withdrawn from combat for their own safety. Marc was on the list but was struck in the head and killed instantly by a shell splinter during the Battle of Verdun, France while in his military service, on March 4, 1916 at the age of thirty-six, before orders for reassignment could reach him.

Marc made some sixty prints in woodcut and lithography. Most of his mature work portrays animals, usually in natural settings. His work is characterized by bright primary color, an almost cubist portrayal of animals, stark simplicity and a profound sense of emotion. Even in his own time, his work attracted notice in influential circles. Marc gave an emotional meaning or purpose to the colors he used in his work: blue was used to portray masculinity and spirituality, yellow represented feminine joy, and red encased the sound of violence. After the National Socialists took power, they suppressed modern art; in 1936 and 1937, the Nazis condemned the late Marc as an entarteter Kunstler (degenerate artist) and ordered approximately 130 of his works removed from exhibition in German museums.