The Blue Rider

Franz Marc




Franz Marc (1880 – 1916) was the only native son of Munich in the Blue Rider circle. After studying at the Academy of Fine Arts until 1903, he left the city for several years to work in seclusion in southern Bavaria, living first at Staffelalm near Kochel and then, from 1909 on, in Sindelsdorf. The focus on his favorite motif, the depiction of animals, appears early on in his oeuvre. Two trips to Paris acquainted him with recent tendencies in French art. In 1910, he met August Macke, who taught him the significance of pure color; this encounter and, more importantly, the one with Wassily Kandinsky in 1911 helped him find his personal style. Marc became Kandinsky’s closest artistic associate and a founding member of the Blue Rider group. His Expressionist mature work, too, is almost entirely devoted to the depiction of animals, which he imbued with great symbolic charisma. In his quest for introspection and spiritual catharsis through art, he found in the creatures he painted an inviolate purity. In the few years between 1911 and 1914, Franz Marc created an eminent oeuvre whose formal range was enriched by the encounter with Robert Delaunay, whom he visited in Paris with August Macke in 1912; he drew inspiration from Delaunay’s colorful Orphic Cubism as well as the rhythmical fragmentations of the Italian Futurists. In 1914, he also produced several abstract compositions, although these works never deny their roots in the organic world. When Worl War I broke out in 1914, Marc was drafted and sent to the French front; he was killed near Verdun in 1916.

“I try to heighten my sensitivity to the organic rhythm inherent in all things, try to hone a pantheistic empathetic sense for the quivering and trickling blood in nature, in trees, in animals, in the air […] I see no more felicitous means to ‘animalize’ art than the depiction of beasts. That is why I resort to the genre.”

Franz Marc, 1910

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