Franz Moritz Wilhelm Marc († March 4, 1916 in Braquis near Verdun, France) was a German painter, draftsman and graphic artist. He is considered one of the most important Expressionist painters in Germany. Along with Wassily Kandinsky, he was a co-founder of the editorial group Der Blaue Reiter, which opened its first exhibition in Munich on December 18, 1911. Der Blaue Reiter emerged from the Neue Künstlervereinigung München, of which Marc was briefly a member. He wrote art theoretical writings for the almanac Der Blaue Reiter and other publications.
Whereas Marc”s early works were still committed to the naturalistic style of Academicism, after a visit to Paris in 1907 he devoted himself to Post-Impressionism under the influence of Gauguin and van Gogh. Between 1910 and 1914 he used stylistic elements of Fauvism, Cubism, Futurism and Orphism, but did not completely separate himself from the subject matter in his work. During this period, he created his well-known paintings, which mainly focus on animal motifs, such as The Tiger, Blue Horse I, The Yellow Cow, The Tower of Blue Horses, and Animal Fates. Marc”s first abstract paintings such as Small Composition I, Fighting Forms and Foxes were created in 1913 and 1914. At the beginning of World War I he was drafted and fell two years later at the age of 36 before Verdun.
Childhood and school years
Franz Marc was born on February 8, 1880, the second son of the Marc family at Schillerstraße 35 in Munich. His father Wilhelm Marc, who had first completed a law degree before taking painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, was a landscape and genre painter. He came from a family of Bavarian civil servants. His mother Sophie, née Maurice, was from Alsace and had spent her childhood in French-speaking Switzerland, where she attended a strict Calvinist boarding school. She had worked as a governess in the family of her future husband. Wilhelm and Sophie Marc had married late.
Franz and his brother Paul Marc, three years older, were baptized Catholic but raised Protestant. They grew up bilingual. Marc spent the summer of 1884 for the first time in Kochel am See, where the family stayed almost every summer for the next few years. Both brothers attended the Luitpold Gymnasium in Munich, where Albert Einstein was a fellow student for a time.
The father Wilhelm Marc left the Catholic Church and converted to the Protestant faith in 1895. Franz Marc entertained the idea of studying classical philology or theology like his older brother Paul – as he told Pastor Otto Schlier, whose confirmation classes had made a lasting impression on him, in a letter in 1897. As an 18-year-old student, he became involved with literature and philosophy, especially the work of Thomas Carlyle and Friedrich Nietzsche. In 1899, Franz Marc passed the Abitur at the Luitpold-Gymnasium.
In 1899, Marc rejected the idea of a clerical profession and enrolled to study philology at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. Before starting his studies, he began his one-year military service in Lagerlechfeld near Augsburg in October of the same year and learned to ride a horse. During this time he decided to take up his father”s profession. In May 1901 he enrolled at the Munich Academy of Art. He received instruction in anatomy from Gabriel von Hackl and in painting from Wilhelm von Diez, both of whom taught in the tradition of the 19th century Munich School of Painting. During the semester breaks of 1901 and 1902, he stayed at the Staffelalm in Jachenau, which was near the family”s resort in Kochel am See. In 1902, he conducted temporary studies in the Dachauer Moos, north of Munich.
With his student friend Friedrich Lauer, who had sufficient funds, he traveled through France in May 1903. A French-language diary from this time has survived. First they stopped for a few months in Paris, at the end of July they went to Brittany, then to Normandy. In Paris, Marc visited the Paris museums, especially the antique collections, copied paintings in the Louvre, and sketched in the streets. He studied the sights and bought Japanese woodblock prints from Flammarion in the art trade, whose technique and composition are said to have made a strong impression on him. In Notre-Dame-de-Chartres Cathedral, the Gothic stained glass windows fascinated him. After returning to Munich in early September of the same year, Marc left the art academy, disappointed by the academic teaching.
First studio and first marriage
In 1904 Marc moved out of his parents” house in Pasing and set up a studio at Kaulbachstrasse 68 in Schwabing. During this time, he had an affair with Annette Simon, née von Eckardt (1871-1934), wife of Richard Simon (1865-1934), a Munich professor of Indology, who was nine years his senior. As a painter, writer and copyist, she had good relations with the art trade and antiquarians. She arranged commissions for prints for Marc, who was suffering from money troubles, and the possibility to earn something by selling books, Japanese woodblock prints and other antiques from his collection.
In February 1905, Franz Marc met the art student Maria Franck at the Bauernkirchweihball, a Schwabing costume party. Since she returned to Berlin shortly thereafter, they lost sight of each other until December 1905. Towards the end of the year or in March 1906, Annette Simon von Eckardt separated from Franz Marc, but they remained lifelong friends.
In order to distract himself from the emotional strain, in April 1906 he traveled to Salonika and Mount Athos with his brother, who had become a Byzantinist and had a scientific assignment to fulfill in Greece. After this study trip, Franz Marc withdrew to Kochel to work, where he remained until the fall. Both Maria Franck and another friend, the painter Marie Schnür, followed him. The three became involved in a triangular relationship in which Marc turned more and more to Schnür, who was eleven years his senior. Marie Schnür wanted to take her son, born out of wedlock in Paris in February 1906, from her relationship with Angelo Jank (another source names August Gallinger as the father), and Franz Marc gave her a promise of marriage, which he communicated to Maria Franck in November 1906.
Franz Marc and Marie Schnür married in Munich on March 27, 1907. He traveled alone to Paris on the same day, where he was particularly impressed by the works of Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin. He captured his enthusiasm for the art and exhibition scene there in reports that he sent to Maria Franck. The following year, on July 8, his marriage to Marie Schnür was divorced. However, since the latter accused Marc of adultery with Maria Franck, contrary to the agreements, Marc could not initially enter into a second marriage under the applicable law.
Friendship with August Macke and Bernhard Koehler
In 1909, the Munich teaching materials store Wilhelm Plessmann commissioned Franz Marc to design weaving patterns for Plessmann”s hand loom. The texts were written by his former lover Annette Simon-von Eckardt.
August Macke, whom he had met at the beginning of 1910, visited him together with his cousin, the painter Helmuth Macke and Bernhard Koehler Jr. (1882-1964), the son of his later patron Bernhard Koehler Sr., in his studio at Schellingstraße 33 in Munich. The reason for the visit were two lithographs by Marc in the Munich art shop of Franz Josef Brakl, which had inspired Macke. For Marc it was the first contact with a like-minded artist. In 1912, a jointly created mural entitled Paradise was painted in Macke”s studio in Bonn. He had a lifelong friendship with Macke, and Marc maintained a lively correspondence with him on questions of art theory.
Koehler Jr. had Brakl send some pictures of Marc to his father. Subsequently, Koehler Sr. Marc in his studio at the end of January and bought the 1905 painting The Dead Sparrow, which stood on Marc”s desk and which the artist was extremely reluctant to part with. The painting formed the cornerstone of Koehler”s extensive Marc collection. He subsequently supported the artist, who was living on the breadline, with 200 marks a month and received paintings of his choice in return, initially limited to one year.
In February 1910 Franz Marc had his first solo exhibition at the Brakl Art Shop, which included 31 paintings as well as gouaches and lithographs. Two months later, Marc and Maria Franck moved to Sindelsdorf into the house of the master carpenter Josef Niggl, where they lived until 1914. They both gave up their studios in Munich. Today, this house has the address “Franz-Marc-Strasse 1”.
In 1911, a dispensation applied for again by Marc to marry Maria Franck was denied, which is why both traveled to London at the beginning of June to enter into a marriage under English law, but according to Maria Marc they did not succeed. Nevertheless, from then on they publicly referred to themselves as a married couple.
Member of the New Artist Association Munich
In December 1909, Marc saw the first exhibition of the Neue Künstlervereinigung München (N.K.V.M.) several times at the Moderne Galerie Heinrich Thannhauser in the Arco-Palais at Theatinerstrasse 7. From September 1 to 14, 1910, the second exhibition of the N.K.V.M. took place, in which a total of 29 artists participated. Works by Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso and Georges Rouault were exhibited, for example. The exhibition – like the one in 1909 – was attacked in the press and in public, whereupon Marc, who had visited this exhibition, wrote a positive review, which reached the gallery owner Thannhauser via Reinhard Piper.
Franz Marc met Wassily Kandinsky and Gabriele Münter on January 1, 1911, in Marianne von Werefkin”s studio apartment at Giselastraße 23, and the following day, accompanied by Alexej von Jawlensky and Helmuth Macke, attended a concert by Arnold Schönberg in Munich. Under the impression of Schoenberg”s novel music, Kandinsky painted the picture Impression III (Concert) shortly thereafter and wrote a letter to the composer, whom he did not know, triggering a discussion of content in which Kandinsky”s “theses of the kinship of dissonance in art were taken up and continued by Schoenberg in contemporary painting as well as in musical composition.” On February 4, 1911, Franz Marc was appointed 3rd chairman of the N.K.V.M.. Marc presented his works and those of his friend Maria Franck.
In the fall of 1911, the tensions between the conservative members and the group around Kandinsky intensified, as a result of which on December 2, with regard to the painting Composition V
Editorial member of the Blauer Reiter
After the editorial community of the Blauer Reiter, founded by Kandinsky and Marc, had formed as a split (Secession) from the N.K.V.M., the “First Exhibition of the Editorial Board ”Der Blaue Reiter”” was opened in the Galerie Thannhauser on December 18, 1911. At the same time, the third exhibition of the remaining eight members of the N.K.V.M. ran on the floor above. Fourteen artists were represented at the first exhibition, in addition to Marc and Kandinsky, artists such as the Burljuk brothers, Heinrich Campendonk, Robert Delaunay, Jean-Bloé Niestlé, Elisabeth Epstein, August Macke, Gabriele Münter, Henri Rousseau and Arnold Schönberg. Franz Marc was represented by his paintings Deer in the Woods I and The Yellow Cow, among others; both can be seen in a photograph by Gabriele Münter, who documented the exhibition photographically.
The exhibition then went on tour to other cities, including Cologne”s Gereonsklub and Berlin”s Herwarth Walden”s Der Sturm gallery. Further stops until 1914 included Bremen, Hagen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Budapest, Oslo, Helsinki, Trondheim and Gothenburg. The traveling exhibition also featured works by Jawlensky and Werefkin, who in the meantime had also left the N.K.V.M. and joined the Blaue Reiter.
The second exhibition of the Blaue Reiter followed from February 12 to March 18, 1912, under the programmatic title “Schwarz-Weiß” (“Black and White”) at the Munich book and art dealer Hans Goltz at Brienner Strasse 8, showing exclusively prints and drawings, including works by Paul Klee and the Brücke artists. It was here that Franz Marc first met Paul Klee, a meeting that resulted in a close friendship between the two artists.
In May 1912 Marc and Kandinsky, financially supported by Bernhard Koehler, published the almanac Der Blaue Reiter with a title woodcut by Kandinsky at Piper Verlag in Munich.
Sonderbund and First German Autumn Salon
In October 1912, Franz and Maria Marc visited the Macke couple in Bonn and viewed the Sonderbund exhibition in Cologne. Shortly before the opening in the summer, there had been a dispute between Marc and the co-organizer Macke because of the ejection of some pictures. But in the meantime Marc was very taken with the exhibition. His painting The Tiger was present in the exhibition as painting No. 450. The friends decided to travel to Paris, where they personally met Robert Delaunay, who had exhibited with the Blaue Reiter. Delaunay”s work, to which Guillaume Apollinaire had given the term Orphic Cubism and which, dominated by color, led to “pure painting”, to separation from the representational, impressed and influenced both painters. For Macke, he was a “revelation”, Marc merely adopted certain stylistic devices from Delaunay.
In December 1912, Marc met the poet Else Lasker-Schüler, the divorced wife of Herwarth Walden, in the Berlin home of his parents-in-law. They soon became close friends, which led to a lively correspondence between Prince Jussuf of Thebes (Else Lasker-Schüler) and Franz Marc until the summer of 1914. Marc sent her a total of 28 postcards painted by his own hand in the following years. The watercolor Der Turm der blauen Pferde (The Tower of Blue Horses) was a New Year”s greeting to the year 1913 and is the only surviving colored sketch for the oil painting of the same name, which has been lost since 1945.
In the spring of 1913, Marc planned the publication of an illustrated Bible together with Kandinsky, in which Alfred Kubin, Paul Klee, Erich Heckel and Oskar Kokoschka were to participate with their approval. Marc had decided on the chapter Genesis from the 1st Book of Moses. It was to be published by Piper Verlag as the Blaue Reiter edition. Negotiations about the publication failed due to the outbreak of the First World War.
On June 3, 1913, the civil marriage with Maria Franck took place. Marc reported the event to Kandinsky the day after: “I regret that I didn”t give you and Klee the pleasure of being our witnesses yesterday – they are playing a comedy at the Munich registry office that already exceeds the limits of what is permissible and imaginable.”
In the same year, Marc was instrumental in organizing the exhibition of Herwarth Walden”s First German Autumn Salon, which was held in Berlin from September 1913. There, 90 artists from France, Germany, Russia, the Netherlands, Italy, Austria, Switzerland and the United States showed their works. Strongly represented were the Delaunay couple, co-organizers Marc, Macke and Kandinsky, as well as other artists of the Blaue Reiter and the Futurists. Marc had given seven paintings, including The Tower of Blue Horses, Tyrol and Animal Fates, whose titling was by Klee, in the exhibition.
Move to Ried and the beginning of the war
At the beginning of 1914, Marc received an offer of a production of William Shakespeare”s The Tempest from Hugo Ball, at that time dramaturge of the Munich Kammerspiele. But already on April 18, after critical newspaper reports, he resigned and wrote to Hugo Ball: “It would definitely have to be pronounced, reorganized, and designed according to our artistic imaginative life.”
At the end of April 1914, Marc acquired a villa in Ried near Benediktbeuern – since 1918 part of Kochel am See – in exchange for his parents” house in Pasing. With the financial support of his mother-in-law, he bought a piece of land to provide an enclosure for the deer he had also purchased. It did not come to the development of a studio; nevertheless, his last large paintings, partly abstract, partly figurative, were created in Ried.
In August, Marc and Macke were called up for military service in the First World War. Earlier biographies referred to them as war volunteers, but more recent publications contradict this claim. Marc”s troop was transferred to the French front at the end of the month. Like many artists and intellectuals of the time, both tended to exaggerate the outbreak of war as a “positive instance.” Macke fell just two months later. His death deeply affected Marc, but initially did not change his attitude. In his obituary, which was not published until after the war, he expressed sorrow for his friend, but held fast to this willingness to make sacrifices. In his “Letters from the Field,” it is clear that he saw a sick Europe that needed to be purified by the war. A change of heart did not set in until later, as it did for many other people, such as Max Beckmann. In October 1915, Marc wrote a letter to Lisbeth Macke, his friend”s widow. In it, he described the war as the “meanest human trapping to which we have surrendered.
An application in early 1916 for “exemption” from military service, which was later rejected, remained meaningless: on March 4, 1916, Franz Marc, a lieutenant in the Landwehr, fell during a reconnaissance mission northwest of Braquis 49.161125.621454, barely 20 km east of Verdun. He had been hit in the head by a shell fragment. The next morning, Franz Marc was buried in the park of the chateau of Gussainville near Braquis under a simple memorial stone. The art critic and journalist Max Osborn described his accidental visit to the resting place as a war correspondent:
In 1917 Maria Marc had his body transferred to Kochel am See. At the place of his death on the D108 between Braquis and Herméville-en-Woëvre, a memorial plaque commemorates him. (Translation of the inscription: At this place, on the territory of the commune of Braquis, the important German painter Franz Marc (1880-1916) was killed by a French shell on March 4, 1916).
Franz Marc used techniques such as oil paints, gouaches, pencil, watercolor and created woodcuts. His favorite motifs were the animals as a symbol of originality and purity, as they embody the idea of creation and live in harmony with nature. With these images he expressed his utopia of a paradisiacal world. The use of color in his works is not only expressive, but also symbolic, as Marc established his own color laws.
A total of 244 oil paintings are listed in the catalog raisonné I, published by Beck. The updated catalog raisonné II lists 261 drawings and watercolors, 94 postcards, 8 glass paintings, 17 decorative art designs on paper and 11 handicraft works, 9 embroideries and 15 sculptural works. Some works could not be attributed to Franz Marc by art experts.
The artistic beginnings
In 1901, Marc worked intensively, albeit in seclusion, in the painting class of Wilhelm von Diez, an artist from the Munich school who had developed a virtuoso, dark-toned history painting style. While works on paper from 1897 onward are known from the beginnings of Marc”s oeuvre, The Landscapes, painted in the summer of 1902 on the Staffelalm above Kochel am See and in the Dachauer Moos, are characterized by naturalism. An example of his traditional painting is the 1902 painting Moorhütten im Dachauer Moos, which – meticulously painted – is dominated by dark brown and green tones.
In the run-up to expressionism
Between 1904 and 1907, Marc searched for his own style. In a cycle of illustrations for a volume of texts by poets such as Richard Dehmel, Carmen Sylva, and Hans Bethge, he explored Art Nouveau. The book was published posthumously in 1917 in an edition of 110 copies under the title Stella Peregrina by the publishing house Franz Hanfstaengl in Munich. Annette Simon-von Eckardt had hand-colored 18 facsimile illustrations by Marc from this period, and the introduction was by Hermann Bahr.
In 1905 Marc became friends with the young Swiss animal painter Jean-Bloé Niestlé. Niestlé encouraged him to implement his preference for animals in such a way that they should not be depicted as zoological representations; rather, the artist should put himself in the animal”s place and capture its essence in painting. The encounter with Niestlé gave Marc the impetus to further develop animal painting as a means of artistic expression. In the same year, the first example was The Dead Sparrow.
Withdrawn, he spent the summer of 1905 again on the Staffelalm, where he painted pictures in a less colorful style in the conventional manner with light and shadow. In this year, through Marie Schnür, he came into contact with the artists of the Scholle, whose painters practiced a variant of Art Nouveau painting in the succession of Impressionism. In the fall he met in Dachau with Adolf Hölzel, the co-founder of the Dachau Artists” Colony, which at that time cultivated open-air painting, from which Marc was not to get away until December 1910.
Franz Marc and Maria Franck spent the summer of 1908 painting intensively in Lenggries. The impression van Gogh”s art made on him was reinforced in December 1909 by an exhibition at the Kunsthaus Brakl in Munich, where he helped out with hanging the seven paintings on display. He explored van Gogh”s formal language, and the result is documented in the painting Cats on Red Cloth, painted between December 1909 and early January 1910. During a visit to Berlin in May 1910, he saw works by Fauvist painters Henri Matisse and Kees van Dongen, and subsequently explored the Fauvist style in the painting Nude with Cat. His mistress Maria Franck served as a model for the painting.
Animalization of art
From 1910, after his move to Sindelsdorf, Marc, for whom the animal increasingly became a metaphor for creaturely purity and innocence, concentrated on animal painting in rural seclusion. After naturalistic beginnings and experiences with Impressionism, he came several steps closer to his goal of “animalizing art” in his paintings and sculptures around 1909. In an essay for the book Das Tier in der Kunst, published by Reinhard Piper in 1910, Marc:
In this phase Marc sought to achieve the “animalization”, the vivification of his pictures, through oscillations and parallelizations of the lines, whereby the inner, the organic life of the animals became visible in their harmonious connection with the surroundings. Motifs for this for several years are the rhythmically arranged groups of horses in the pasture, as shown in his Still Naturalistic Colored Grazing Horses I. Jakob Johann von Uexküll had already dealt in detail with the “inner life” of animals in his 1909 publication Umwelt und Innenwelt der Tiere (Environment and Inner World of Animals), which the well-read Franz Marc had probably already taken note of at the time. In Marc”s case, this led to the question of how a horse, an eagle, a deer, or a dog sees the world, which led to a self-critical classification of his own conventions – “to place the animals in a landscape that belongs to our eyes, instead of sinking ourselves into the soul of the animal in order to guess its pictorial circle”.
For example, the painting Lying Dog in the Snow, a depiction of Marc”s Siberian shepherd dog Russi, radiates complete harmony in the coexistence of animal and nature; it reflects the oneness between the nature surrounding him, the resting of the snow, and the dog”s resting on it – “a common silence of animate and inanimate nature.”
Coloring in Marc”s work
In 1910 Marc was still struggling “to get out of the arbitrariness of color,” and on December 6 of that year he confessed: “but to do that you have to know a lot more about color and not fumble with lighting so haphazardly.” Two days later he recalled a conversation in which Marianne von Werefkin enlightened Helmuth Macke that “almost all Germans make the mistake of taking light for color, while color is something quite different and has nothing at all to do with light, i.e. illumination.” Inspired by this remark, Marc began to study the color theory of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Wilhelm von Bezold as well as the color symbolism of Philipp Otto Runge, with Adolf Erbslöh helping him out with a “small edition of Chevreul”.
In lively correspondence with August Macke, he described in detail his findings and the intention to create his own color theory from them. He formulated them in a letter to Macke dated December 12, 1910:
Beginning of abstraction
In 1911 he created the paintings Blue Horse I (Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich) and Blue Horse II (Kunstmuseum Bern). In them, Marc turns blue from an “appearance color” into an “essence color”. He found in the animal image a symbol for a “spiritualization of the world.” Like the Blue Flower of Romanticism, the Blue Horse expresses the search for redemption from earthly heaviness and material bondage. In contrast to the Blue, Marc realized his idea of yellow as “the feminine principle, gentle, serene, sensual” in the painting of the Yellow Cow, also from 1911, which expresses joie de vivre. The Tiger, from 1912, features a cubist formal language that Marc had encountered at the second N.K.V.M. exhibition in the paintings of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. He transformed it expressively.
The paintings created up to 1914 approach a “prismatic” and “crystalline” abstraction that emerge from a fusion of the forms of Italian Futurism and the Orphism of Robert Delaunay. Examples of this are the non-representational Small Compositions, created in four motifs between late 1913 and early 1914.
The bodies of the horses in the work Der Turm der blauen Pferde (The Tower of Blue Horses) from 1913, which has been lost since 1945, already appear abstracted, composed of geometric forms, and the landscape background consists only of abstract formations. His abstract painting style is even more pronounced in the painting Tierschicksale (Animal Fates) from the same year, in which horses, pigs, and wolves are indistinctly added between pointed, threatening-looking forms, and a blue-and-white deer can be seen in the center, stretching its head extremely upward. On the back of the painting Marc noted: “And all being is flaming sorrow”; he interpreted this text in a letter to his wife in 1915 as a premonition of war.
Four non-representational works created in Ried, the paintings Heitere Formen, Spielende Formen, Kämpfende Formen and Zerbrochene Formen, date from 1914. The titles reveal the ambivalence of his feelings. One interpretation of Fighting Forms compares the red expanse of color on the left to an eagle swooping down on an unspecified dark creature. More representational than the forms is Tyrol, on which a Madonna is recognizable. The last painting is Rehe im Walde II, which shows three deer in a clearing in a highly abstracted form. The animal had lost meaning for him; in a letter from the field to his wife on April 12, 1915, Marc wrote:
Reinhard Piper published Marc”s essay On the Animal in Art in his publishing house in 1910. Marc wrote to the publisher:
In the summer of 1911, Piper Verlag published Im Kampf um die Kunst (In the Struggle for Art), in which Kandinsky and Marc, along with other artists, gallery directors and writers, wrote articles in response to Carl Vinnen”s polemical Ein Protest deutscher Künstler (A Protest by German Artists). Vinnen had objected to the “alienation of German art” on the occasion of the purchase of a van Gogh painting by the director of the Kunsthalle Bremen, Gustav Pauli, in April 1911, and his appeal won the signatures of Thomas Theodor Heine, Franz von Stuck, and Käthe Kollwitz, among others. The controversy became known as the Bremer Künstlerstreit.
In March 1912, Pan Marc”s art magazine published an article on “Die Neue Malerei” (The New Painting) in which he tried to prove that his painting, which he called “new,” could not be traced back to Impressionism, but at most, and then only to a limited extent, to Paul Cézanne. Every era had its quality, and the artistic value or unvalue of the new painterly ideas had to be discussed. Max Beckmann, who had still stood by Marc in Im Kampf um die Kunst, criticized Marc”s remarks in the following Pan, placing the works of Gauguin, Matisse, and Picasso in the vicinity of the arts and crafts and concluding with the sentence: “The laws of art are eternal and imperishable, like the moral law within us.” Marc replied in pan, but two points of view clashed, which are still fought out in the present.
In May 1912 the almanac Der Blaue Reiter was published with a dedication to Hugo von Tschudi in an edition of 1200 copies, which Kandinsky concluded with three long contributions. At the request of the publisher Piper, the word “Almanach” had to be removed from Kandinsky”s title woodcut before it went to press. The work did not become an annual organ, as originally planned, but experienced only one reprint in 1914. 141 picture reproductions, 19 text contributions and three music supplements were listed in the book. Marc was represented with illustrations of his paintings and with three short introductory chapters.
In Geistige Güter, he complained that spiritual goods were valued less than material goods. In the second article, The “Savages” of Germany, he explained that the modern artists – the “savages,” borrowing from the Fauves – of the Brücke, the Neue Secession in Berlin, and the Neue Künstlervereinigung in Munich consistently followed the path of spiritual renewal of art:
In the last chapter, Two Pictures, Marc juxtaposed an illustration from Grimm”s Fairy Tales from 1832 with Kandinsky”s painting Lyrisches from 1911. Both pictures were “of quite the same deep inwardness of artistic expression”. Authors besides the two editors Marc and Kandinsky, such as Delaunay, Macke, and Schönberg, provided texts and pictorial examples from various fields of fine art, folk art, music, and theater. The Almanac by Artists for Artists became one of the most important German-language programmatic writings for the art of the 20th century; it was published in all world languages.
For the First German Autumn Salon in September 1913, Marc wrote a foreword for the catalog on behalf of his exhibiting artist colleagues, in addition to Herwarth Walden”s preface.
Under the title Im Fegefeuer des Krieges (In Purgatory of War), Franz Marc”s first war pamphlet appeared in the Vossische Zeitung on December 15, 1914; he had written it in October of the same year during a stay in the military hospital necessitated by dysentery. The following year, his second war pamphlet appeared under the title Das geheime Europa. In it: “The war is going around. Europe is sick with the old hereditary evil and wants to get well, therefore it wants the terrible bloodshed, for cleansing the war is waged and the sick blood is shed.
Marc”s letters from the field and his sketchbook, the only pictorial expression from the war period, were published under the title Franz Marc, Briefe, Aufzeichnungen und Aphorismen in 1920 by Paul Cassirer in Berlin.
Contemporaries about Franz Marc
In his article Über die Formfrage (On the Question of Form) in the Almanac, Kandinsky emphasized Marc”s significance for abstract art on the basis of the painting Der Stier (The Bull) depicted there and stressed the “strong abstract sound of the corporeal form” that did not call for the destruction of the representational, but rather united “its individual parts” into an “entire abstract main sound.”
Paul Klee wrote in his diary in 1916 in memory of Franz Marc: “When I say who Franz Marc is, I must at the same time confess who I am, because much of what I participate in also belongs to him. He is more human, he loves more warmly, more expressively. He leans towards the animals in a human way. He exalts them to himself.”
The lyricist Else Lasker-Schüler published a necrology in the Berliner Tageblatt of March 9, 1916, beginning with the lines: “The blue horseman has fallen, a great biblical one on whom hung the fragrance of Eden. Over the landscape he cast a blue shadow. He was the one who still heard the animals speak; and he transfigured their misunderstood souls.” She published another obituary the following year: Als der blaue Reiter war gefallen …, a poem that owed its genesis to the supposed loss of the painting Tierschicksale, which had been badly damaged in a fire in 1917. In 1919 appeared her novel dedicated to Franz Marc, Der Malik. Eine Kaisergeschichte mit Bildern und Zeichnungen was published by Paul Cassirer in Berlin.
In a letter to Marie-Anne von Goldschmidt-Rothschild in the fall of 1916, after a visit to the Munich memorial exhibition, Rainer Maria Rilke noted that he had “finally once again seen an oeuvre, a unity of life achieved and attained in the work.”
First posthumous exhibitions
From September 14 to October 15, 1916, six months after Marc”s death, the “Franz Marc Memorial Exhibition” was shown at the Neue Secession in Munich – the exhibition building of the artists” group that had been formed in 1913. This was followed in November by the memorial exhibition at Herwarth Walden”s Sturm-Galerie in Berlin, which included nearly 200 works by the artist, including Animal Fates. During temporary storage, the painting was partially destroyed by fire in 1917 and restored by Paul Klee in 1919. Works by him were exhibited at the 16th Venice Biennale in 1928.
National Socialism period
During the period of National Socialism, there was a grace period for the art world until the end of the Olympic Games in the summer of 1936. To mark the 20th anniversary of Franz Marc”s death, the Kestnergesellschaft in Hanover organized a memorial exhibition from March 4 to April 14, 1936, in which 165 of the artist”s works were shown. They were part of the first catalog raisonné of Marc”s works, written by the art historian Alois Schardt together with his wife and Marc”s widow, Maria Marc, and published in Berlin before the end of 1936. It contains a total of 996 works. After Hanover, it was on view in the Nierendorf and von der Heyde galleries in Berlin from May 4. The introductory lecture by Alois Schardt on the eve of the opening was forbidden by the Gestapo, Schardt was arrested and his book on Marc, which had just been published, was confiscated. The painting Die kleinen blauen Pferde (The Little Blue Horses) from 1911 was shown in both memorial exhibitions and hangs today in the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart. The painting belonged to the art collector and patron Alfred Hess, and ownership, as with several other Marc paintings, has not yet been conclusively clarified.
After the Second World War
After the Second World War, Franz Marc”s painting began to become popular, and the animal paintings from 1911
A retrospective of the painterly and graphic works of Franz Marc, the largest since the complete show in 1916, opened on September 17, 2005 in the Lenbachhaus and the associated Kunstbau. By January 8, 2006, it had attracted a record 300,000 visitors.
The Blue Year – 100 Years of the Blue Rider, under this summary title, the Franz Marc Museum in Kochel offered in 2011, in addition to collection presentations, among others, special exhibitions of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Paul Klee, and from September 18, 2011 Franz Marc and Joseph Beuys. In Harmony with Nature. The exhibition, which was subsequently on view at the Altana Cultural Foundation”s Sinclair House in Bad Homburg from December 8, 2011 to February 12, 2012, made it clear that Joseph Beuys and Franz Marc”s thinking and work are characterized by a closeness to nature and that their works reflect common points of departure for a concept of nature rooted in the tradition of German Romanticism. Just as the horse or the deer become symbols of the spiritual in Marc”s work, so in Beuys” work the stag, swan, bee, and hare are symbol bearers of their own mythology, grown out of Christian, literary, and scientific contexts and charged with social relevance.
Also in the Blue Year, the Schlossmuseum Murnau pointed out the influence of Japanese art on the artists of the Blaue Reiter for the first time in the exhibition Die Maler des “Blauen Reiter” und Japan, which ran from July 21 to November 6, 2011. Collection items of the painters, including Franz Marc”s Japanese art collection, as well as examples of works formed the spectrum of the exhibition, which established the connection to “classical Japonism”.
Under the painting The Blue Foals from 1913, a study of two cats was discovered in the summer of 2013, presumably also painted by Marc in 1913. It was shown at the Kunsthalle in Emden from October 3 of that year.
On November 5, 2013, a televised press conference on the spectacular Schwabing art find featured a study of the Great Blue Horses from 1911 entitled Horses in Landscape, which came from the estate of art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt. The former owner was the Kunst- und Gewerbemuseum Moritzburg in Halle (Saale).
Franz Marc on the art market
In February 2008, the auction of Grazing Horses III from 1910 at Sotheby”s in London achieved a then record price of the equivalent of 16.5 million euros. This was double the estimated price. The bidder remained unknown.
In June 2009, one of Marc”s last Impressionist paintings, Jumping Horses, also from 1910, fetched the equivalent of 4.4 million euros at an auction at Christie”s in London. It thus remained just below the estimated price.
Franz Marc”s Three Horses from 1912, a small gouache on cardboard, fetched four times its estimate, also at Christie”s in 2018. With buyer”s premium, it reached 15.4 million pounds, just under 17.5 million euros.
On March 1, 2022, his painting Foxes from 1913 was auctioned at Christie”s. It had been owned by the Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf, since 1962 and was restituted at the request of the heirs of its former owner Kurt Grawi. Its value was estimated at 35 million British pounds (about 42 million euros). The unnamed buyer bid over 42.6 million pounds in London, just over 51 million euros.
In 1949 Maria Marc asked the gallery owner Otto Stangl to manage her husband”s artistic estate. After Maria Marc”s death on January 25, 1955, Stangl became “custodian of the Franz Marc estate”; in accordance with the widow”s bequest, he donated a number of paintings determined by her to several important museums.
Franz Marc”s written estate was acquired by the German Art Archive at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg from the Galerie Stangl, Munich, in 1973. In 2005, 200 documents were added as a donation from one of Stangl”s heirs.
Kochel am See is home to the Franz Marc Museum, founded in 1986 and expanded in 2008. The executor of the estate, Otto Stangl, already had the vision when founding the Franz Marc Museum to expand it later in order to make the continuation of the idea of the “spiritual in art”, which was important to the Blauer Reiter, understandable through the abstraction of the post-war period. The Etta and Otto Stangl Foundation bequeathed many works to the museum, including paintings by his artist friends from the Blue Rider circle. The various influences on Franz Marc”s art, as well as the inspiration that came from it, are presented with examples of works in the Franz Marc Museum.
The collection of Japanese woodblock prints acquired by Franz Marc in Paris in 1903 has not been preserved in its entirety. From his estate 21 ink drawings and woodcuts as well as 17 illustrated books came to the Castle Museum Murnau in 2009. Since 1908, Marc had his name or monogram cut into at least three Chinese and Japanese soapstones in the East Asian style, in order to use them as stamps on postcards.
The Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg houses 26 of a total of 32 sketchbooks dating from 1903 to 1914, acquired from the estate in 1982 and exhibited in 2019 in a special exhibition from May 23 to September 1.
Franz Marc received increased public attention, especially in the last third of the 20th century.
In several cities in Germany, streets are named after Marc, for example in Fulda, Fürth, Hamburg, Landshut, Wolfsburg, Oldenburg, Puchheim, Vechta, Elmshorn, Heidelberg, Kochel am See, Cologne, Kösching, Leverkusen, Mühlheim, Saarbrücken, Schifferstadt, Schweinfurt, Sindelsdorf, Töging and Munich.
On October 13, 2000, an asteroid discovered in 1991 was named after him: (15282) Franzmarc.
As part of a double issue on German Expressionism, Deutsche Bundespost issued a stamp with the Red Deer worth 30 pfennigs on February 15, 1974, with the second stamp at 40 pfennigs showing Alexei von Jawlensky”s head in blue. As part of the “German Painting of the 20th Century” series, Deutsche Bundespost issued a 60 pfennig special stamp on June 11, 1992, featuring the motif Horse in the Landscape. To mark the 100th anniversary of the Blue Rider, Deutsche Post AG issued a special stamp worth 145 euro cents. The issue date was February 9, 2012. The design was created by communications designer Nina Clausing from Wuppertal and is based on the 1911 work Blaues Pferd I (Blue Horse I) by Franz Marc.
The Franz Marc Museum, opened in 1986, was dedicated to the artist. Three years later, in 1989, the former Gymnasium Markt Schwaben was renamed Franz Marc Gymnasium in honor of the artist. His bust is installed in the Munich Hall of Fame.
The Free State of Bavaria celebrated two anniversaries in 2011, the 125th anniversary of the death of the “fairy-tale king” Ludwig II and, at the same time, the 100th birthday of the Blauer Reiter. Many exhibitions in museums showed the works of the artists involved in special shows, for example the Murnau Castle Museum, the Franz Marc Museum, the Buchheim Museum in Bernried and the Penzberg City Museum. In 2014, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the death of Franz Marc”s artist friend August Macke, the Kunstmuseum Bonn opened the exhibition “August Macke and Franz Marc. An Artist Friendship.” For the first time, it presented some 200 works relating exclusively to the friendship of the two artists and their art. It was shown at the Lenbachhaus in Munich from January to May 2015. On the 100th anniversary of the artist”s death on March 4, 2016, the Franz Marc Museum dedicated an exhibition trilogy to him under the collective title “Franz Marc – Between Utopia and Apocalypse,” the third part of which ended in January 2017.
Writings and catalogs of works
The Blue Rider
Correspondence, writings and documents
Directories of works