Franz Marc (1880-1916)

Franz Moritz Wilhelm Marc was a German painter and printmaker. He was a founding member of Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) and one of the key figures of German Expressionism.

The Tower of Blue Horses

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Despite his untimely death, Franz Marc had a huge impact on the various Expressionist movements that would evolve after the First World War. He is famous for his images of brightly colored animals, especially horses, and used them to convey profound messages about humanity, the natural world, and the fate of mankind.


Early life and education

Franz Marc photographie

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Franz Marc was born in Munich, Germany on February 8, 1880. His father, Wilhelm Marc, was an amateur landscape painter. Under the influence of his artistic father, Marc’s artistic talent was evident from a young age, but he did not decide to pursue a career in painting until after completing his military service.


The journey to Paris

In 1907 Franz Marc made a trip to Paris, where he first encountered the work of Vincent van Gogh, whose emotional and vigorous brushstroke he was inspired and influenced, and from this moment on his work took a distinctly different turn, visible in the painting Cats on Red Cloth, which was created from 1909 to 1910.

Franz Marc, The White Cat,1912

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During his time in Paris, Franz Marc spent a lot of time visiting Parisian museums and art galleries and meeting local artists. He primarily developed his style by copying the styles of the artists who inspired him and adding his unique flourishes. The work from this period can be seen to be the classic Parisian style of the era, while many of his works of art were also inspired by the surrounding environment.


Der Blaue Reiter

In 1911 both Franz Marc and Wassily Kandinsky left the Neue Künstlervereinigung to found their rival group of artists which they named Der Blaue Reiter. Around the same time, the couple also established and started editing an art trip of the same name. Der Blaue Reiter was dedicated to depicting the works of new artists and new artistic styles that were slowly starting to become more prominent and accepted in Germany and other parts of the world.

Marc Franc, Blue horse I, 1911

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Working closely on various art projects, Kandinsky and Marc gradually began to develop the concept that mystical energy can be revealed to full effect through the technique of abstraction. Franz Marc mainly chose animals as his subject as he thought that this would be a much purer means of conveying his message. He also occasionally adopted the mentally ill and children as his subjects.


Philosophy and the Large Blue Horses

The painting titled the Large Blue Horses was created by Franz Marc in 1911 and is perhaps one of the clearest examples of his artistic philosophy. This work features powerful and simple lines combined with the rounded outlines that form the horses that Marc is now famous for. He chose these simple lines and forms to echo the rhythms of the landscape in the background that he used to unite the animals and their setting. Even though the painting looks rather simple at first glance, it is packed with symbolism and uses bold blue, red and yellow colors to represent specific emotional states.

Die großen blauen Pferde, The Large Blue Horses (1911)

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As Marc revealed in his articles that were published in Der Blaue Reiter, the horses represent a breakthrough and blue has been chosen to represent spirituality concerning materialism. The horses are shown without riders to show their supremacy over humans and it is believed that three horses have been chosen rather than four that were often seen in Marc’s earlier works to represent the apocalypse.

Info sources: Franz_Marc

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