A pioneer of the ‘Expressionist’ movement in Germany, Franz Marc (February 1880 – March 1916) was born in Munich. His father was a ‘Landscape’ painter. Franz Marc studied at Munich, Italy, and France. He formed the ‘Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) Expressionist’ group with Kandinsky, in Munich, in 1911. A majority of his paintings have animals, including horses, dogs, tigers, and foxes, to name some, as their theme. Under the influence of ‘Cubists’ and ‘Futurists,’ Marc’s work showed a tilt towards ‘Abstraction.’ Apart from painting, Marc also worked in print, using lithography and woodcut. One of his best-known paintings, created in 1913, is “Fate of the Animals (Tierschicksale),” exhibited at the Kunstmuseum Basel.
Franz’s oil on canvass work, “Fate of the Animals” is a dynamic but a bleak piece of art depicting the devastation of nature. The painting, devised from ‘Leinwand’ technique,is said to be a prediction of the First World War. Franz made the use of vivid primary colors and jagged forms to depict the contrast between technology,
European wilds, and the destruction of natural surroundings. About the painting, Marc wrote to his wife, “It is like a premonition of this war, horrible and shattering. I can hardly conceive that I painted it.” The painting was in stark contrast to the works of the ‘Italian Futurists,’ whose creations were a glorification of the cruel aspects of development & technology. At the back of the painting, Marc wrote, “Und Alles Sein ist flammend Leid” (“And all being is flaming agony”).
Most of Marc’s work portrayed animals, mostly in natural settings. Overall, simplicity, bright colors, strong emotional overtones, and intense mysticism characterized his work, which the influential people in society noticed. Talking about the depiction of animals in most of his work, Marc said, “I think a lot about my own art,” adding, “My instincts have so far guided me not too badly on the whole, even though my works have been flawed. Above all I mean the instinct which has led me away from people to a feeling of animality, for ‘pure beasts’. The ungodly people around me (particularly the men) did not arouse my true feelings, whereas the undefiled vitality of animals called forth everything good in me… I found people ‘ugly’ very early on; animals seemed to me more beautiful, more pure.”
Under tragic conditions, Marc died in the Great War, in 1916, but not before creating some wonderfully exciting and moving paintings, most notably, “Fate of the Animals,” measuring 77 x 105 inches (195 x 266 cm). Had it not been for the War, Marc would have created several more painting splendors.