Franz Marc - Horses
biography and the exhibition at the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart
It makes sense to hold the exhibition Franz Marc - Horses, a key theme in his work, at the
Staatsgalerie Stuttgart. The museum possesses major paintings such as Small
Blue Horses (1911) and Small Yellow Horses (1912; see the image
Among the 120 works on display are paintings,
drawings, water colors and postcards. The exhibition begins with his
studies on nature of 1905/06 and ends with sketches he made shortly before
his premature death at the front in the First World War in 1916.
Among the famous works on loan in Stuttgart are Blue
Horses (1911) from the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and Red
Horses (1911), an anonymous loan to the Busch-Reisinger Museum in
Cambridge, Mass., which both were last shown in Europe in the late 1930s.
Some of the works are being shown in public for the first time ever in
Stuttgart (until September 10, 2000).
a few remarks
Franz Marc (1880-1916) was
born in Munich, Germany, as the second son of a mother from the Alsace, who gave
her children a strict Calvinistic and bilingual (all of Marc's letters
are written in French) education, and a father who had studied law but at his birth worked
as a professor in painting at the Munich Academy.
In 1899, Marc enlists himself to study theology and philology at the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich. But
first, he has to serve one year in the military. Coming back with the degree of
a corporal, he decides to study painting at the Academy of Munich. Among his
teachers are Gabriel von Hackl 1843-1926) and Wilhelm von Diez (1839-1907). In
1901, he travels to Florence, where his brother lives for his Byzantine studies,
Padua and Verona. In 1903, he spends three month in Paris where he buys some
Japanese woodcuts (the horses on the left, 1911/12, are a late testimony of this
[New in 2006: if
you read German, check the article about the Franz Marc retrospective at
the Lenbachhaus in Munich:
Franz Marc Die Retrospektive].
Franz Marc, Die kleinen gelben Pferde, 1912.
Photograph copyright: exhibition catalogue
In 1904, Marc decides to quit the academy and begins to
work in his own atelier in Munich. He keeps up the contact with the academic
world and is influenced by Munich's famous animal painter Heinrich von Zügel
(1850-1941) as well as by Adolf Hoelzel (1853-1934). In 1905, the contact with
the young Swiss animal painter Jean Bloé Niestlé (1884-1942) has a
liberating effect on Marc.
Two years later, Marc marries Marie Schnür, probably
mainly in order to permit her to keep a illegal child she had with another
painter in Munich. A mistake from the beginning, they divorced in 1908. Maria
Franck becomes the new woman in his life.
In 1909, Marc can sell his first works to the Munich art
dealers Franz Joseph Brakl and Heinrich Thannhauser. A year later, his
friendship with August Macke begins. Marc is impressed by a Gaugin-exhibition
in 1910 which enhances his estimation for the French painter. He also creates
the cover for a Cézanne catalogue by Julius Meier-Graefe. The intellectual
encounter with Cézanne allows Marc to get access to contemporary painting.
Later in 1910, he is influenced by the Neue
Künstlervereinigung München and, a year later, he gets to know Jawlensky,
Marianne von Werefkin and Wassily Kandinsky, who becomes his close friend. In
1911 (and 1912), Marc creates his most famous horse paintings and exhibits,
together with Kandinsky, at the Frankfurter Kunstsalon M. Goldschmidt & Co.
Marc marries Maria Franck in London, but for legal reasons, this union is not
recognized in Germany.
Together with Kandinsky, Marc elaborates the idea of the yearly almanac
The Blue Rider (Der Blaue Reiter) and writes three articles for its first
edition. Together with Kandinsky, Gabriele Münter and Alfred Kubin, Marc leaves
the Neue Künstlervereinigung München in December and, the same month, they
organize the first exhibition of Der Blaue Reiter.
1912, Marc establishes ties to the other major group
of German expressionist artists, Die Brücke. This relation, imposed
against Kandinsky's will, enhances his interest in woodcuts. He is involved in
an intellectual argument with the German painter Max Beckmann. Thanks to a stay in
Paris, he establishes close relations to Robert Delaunay. In May 1913, he
finishes two major paintings, Turm der Blauen Pferde (missing) and Die
Ersten Tiere (destroyed in a fire in 1917). He marries Maria Franck again,
and this time it is legalized.
the influence of futurism and orphism, Marc's paintings become more abstract in
1913 and, a year later, are abstract color fantasies. At the outbreak of the
First World War, Marc immediately registers as an officer in the reserve. First,
he instructs recruits and, at the end of the same month, is sent the the Western
front in the Alsace (as a messenger rider). In September, he becomes ill with
dysentery. The artist's movement Der Blaue Reiter is disintegration and,
on September 26, his close friend August Macke dies on the front. He is deeply
moved, but has not lost his faith in war as a positive force in the sense of a
cultural and social renewing.
1915, Marc writes his collection of 100 Aphorism and his essays Das
geheime Europe (the secret Europe) are published in the March edition of the
magazine Das Forum. On August 10, he is awarded the Iron Cross and
promoted lieutenant. In February 1916, the German Ministry for Intellectual and
Educational Affairs decides to give more artistic freedom to artists within the
military or to withdraw them from the front. Maria Marc also gets a message in
this sense, but before Franz Marc can profit from it, he falls in the battle for
Verdun, hit in the temple by a grenade splinter on a reconnaissance ride - on a
Franz Marc - Pferde: exhibition at the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart until September
10, 2000. Check our Links
for the museum's website. Catalogue: Hatje Cantz, 2000, 220 p., 220 ill. of
which 140 in color. For more articles on art: Art.