Franz Marc: Artist Portrait

Franz Marc

Born 1880. Died 1916.
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Franz Marc Biography

German Expressionist painter Franz Marc was a leading figure of Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), a journal and sprawling artistic group in Germany during the years leading up to the first World War. He was known for his vibrant palette and expressionistic use of color in his paintings and prints. Marc consistently turned to animals as subject as a means to explore the mystical, spiritual world outside of industrialization and the quickly modernizing world of Western Europe.

Marc was born in 1880 in Munich to Wilhelm Marc, an established landscape and genre painter. After studying fine art and traveling throughout Western Europe, he befriended Vassily Kandinsky, Auguste Macke and Alexej von Jawlensky, who together formed the Blue Rider. The members of the group had divergent approaches to painting, but shared in common the desire to achieve spiritual truth through artistic production. Beginning in 1911 the major Blue Rider exhibitions, led by Macke and Kandinsky, exemplified the height of German Expressionism as the culmination of Fauvist chromatic liberation, Cubist dissection of form and the aesthetic and ethical questions permeating Western Europe leading up to World War I. Marc’s images of animals and nature, presented through richly saturated, surprising color distinctions and juxtapositions, provided emotional meaning that had been separated from connotation of subject. Like Die Brücke, the other major branch of German Expressionism, Blue Rider dispelled at the start of World War I; Marc died instantly during the battle of Verdun in 1916 at the age of thirty-six.

As a fundamental member of Blue Rider, Marc’s works remain crucial lynchpins in the development of Western modernism. His works can be found at every major institution of modern art including the Solomon R. Guggenheim, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago, and many others. Marc’s work continues to captivate audiences and collectors through the warmth, timelessness, and expressive nature of his style; at Sotheby’s his Grazing Horses III sold for $24.4 million in 2008 and The Waterfall (Women Under a Waterfall) for $20.2 million in 2007.

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