Franz Marc
was born on February 8, 1880, in Munich, Germany, the son of an artist. Despite the influence of his father’s work, Franz chose to pursue a study of theology and philosophy. But when he was twenty years old, he entered the Munich Art Academy. He is said to have been a moody young man who at first had difficulty in finding ways to express his ideas artistically.

His first contact with the Impressionists was in Paris, where he was greatly impressed by Rousseau. The following year after returning to Munich, he finally began to clarify what he wanted to do with his talents.

By 1911, along with V. Kandinsky, Marc became a founding member of Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Horsemen), which brought together Expressionist, Cubist, and contemporary Russian and French artists. This progressive group had a powerful influence on the unfolding art of the twentieth century.

Marc and other artists of Der Blaue Reiter group felt the need to test their ideas. Self-expression was the binding force of these artists. Slowly they developed a controllable visual language to communicate their ideas. They also published their thoughts and innovations in their magazine Der Blaue Retier.

He believed that spiritual essence is best revealed through abstraction, and was passionately interested in the art of primitive peoples, children, and the mentally ill. His own work consisted primarily of animal studies, since he believed nonhuman forms of life to be the most expressive manifestation of the vital force of nature.

In his unique style of painting he tried to show the spiritual side of nature. Colors were symbols for Marc, rather than visual describers. He saw blue as being masculine, spiritual and robust. Yellow was feminine, gentle and serene to him. Red was brutal and heavy.

He was moving toward a more abstract style of painting when he volunteered for military service. His life and career ended abruptly on a battlefield during World War I, where he died near Verdun, France, on March 4, 1916 at the age of thirty-six.

 LITTLE YELLOW HORSES – Notice how the three horses stand with heads bent down and their necks twisted gently around, almost inviting us to stroke the soft necks and backs of these powerful, graceful animals. Their elegant curving forms imply a solidity that resembles a sculpture.

The painting give us a close-up view of its subject. The horses nearly fill the entire canvas, their legs seeming to extend far below the format of the picture. Marc wanted to tell us more about horses than what they really looked like and wanted us to see them in a new light by portraying them in different colors than they are in nature.

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