On Discovering Franz Marc

'Blue Horse' by Franz Marc Courtesy of Google Images
‘Blue Horse’ by Franz Marc
Courtesy of Google Images

Franz Marc was an early twentieth century German impressionist painter who was born February 8, 1880 in Munich. Marc died March 4, 1916 in Barquis, France.

As a very young man at 20 years old, Marc began work at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich where he studied under von Diez and Hackl. Hackl was a known teacher of the historicist Romantic era post-Neoclassicism, and von Diez better known for his own Onion-like satire magazine, but who also tended toward the apparent ethology which later appears in Marc’s work.

After commencing study in Munich, Marc was able to travel to Paris where he encountered the vigorous, impressionist, passionate brushstrokes of van Gogh pervading La Ville Lumière. It was then, in the years following Marc’s Cats on a Red Cloth, that he really dove into the world of expressionist passions. Marc did so expressively through the medium of color. Although Marc began on this rich road of color in league with Russians artists, namely the group ‘Neue Künstelervereinigung’, he eventually found his fork in forming Der Blaue Reiter.

During this period of around 1911-1912, Marc developed a personal philosophy that ideas are more practical to deal with than are events, for it is the esoteric truth which matters, not that of the civilized. In Marc’s paintings, this philosophy is reflected in concepts of Primitivism. Though it is arguable that this Primitivism appears much less in the works of Marc and in Der Blaue Reiter than it does in other period works, it seems that Marc’s passion for color has roots within a contextually double-aspect Primitivism—both subject-primitive and ‘idea or mood’-primitive.

Before Marc’s wartime death in 1916, he tinkered about with different styles, gladly attempting color over shape through pieces such as The Fox, a sample of Orphism, a derived form from Apollinaire’s Cubism. Marc even toyed with ideas of Futurism, a term first coined by Filippo Marinetti in 1909 in Le Figaro celebrating change and originality.

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