Bismarck, Otto v.
Kleist, Heinrich v.
Ossietzky, Carl v.
Schinkel, Karl Friedrich
b. Feb. 8, 1880, Munich
d. March 4, 1916, near Verdun, France
German painter and printmaker, founding member of
"The Blue Rider" group, known for
the intense nature mysticism of his paintings of animals.
Marc's early works were done in a self-consciously academic style, but in 1903 his
stolid naturalism was lightened by his exposure to French Impressionist painting and
later to the sensuous, curvilinear art of Munich's Jugendstil movement.
In 1909 Marc joined a group of Expressionist artists known as the Neue
Künstlervereinigung (New Artists' Association). There he met August Macke, whose
idiosyncratic use of broad areas of rich colour led Marc to experiment with similar
In 1910 Marc met Wassily Kandinsky, with whom he edited Der Blaue Reiter, the
journal that gave its name to the group of artists, led by Kandinsky, who split from the
Neue Künstlervereinigung in the following year. Having long been interested in
Eastern philosophies and religions, Marc responded enthusiastically to Kandinsky's
almost mystical notion that art should lay bare the spiritual essence of natural forms
instead of copying their objective appearance with exact verisimilitude. Under the
influence of Kandinsky, Marc came to believe that spiritual essence is best revealed
through abstraction. He believed that civilization destroys human awareness of the
all-pervading spiritual force of nature. Consequently, he was passionately interested in
the art of primitive peoples, children, and the mentally ill. But his own work consisted
primarily of animal studies, since he considered nonhuman forms of life to be the most
expressive manifestation of the vital natural force.
This philosophy is mirrored in Marc's "Blue Horses" (1911), in which the powerfully
simplified and rounded outlines of the horses are echoed in the rhythms of the
landscape background, uniting both animals and setting into a vigorous and
harmonious organic whole. In this painting as in his other mature works, Marc used a
well-defined symbology of colour.
In 1912 Marc's admiration for the works of R. Delaunay and for the Italian Futurists
made his art increasingly dynamic. He began to use the faceted space and forms of
Delaunay's brightly coloured Cubistic compositions to express the brutal power and
the timorous fragility of various forms of animal life.
"Marc, Franz" Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Web Museum: Franz Marc
ArtCyclopedia: Franz Marc
Franz Marc's Biography in German
Franz Marc: Biography and Gallery