Franz Marc (February 8, 1880 - March 4, 1916) was a German painter, one of the key figures of German Expressionism. He was a co-founding member of Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), in Munich, together with Kandinsky. He is famous for his colorful animal-paintings.
- I walked [along impressionist paintings in the Paris' museums, 1907] like a roe-deer in an enchanted forest, for which it has always yearned.
- as quoted by de:Wolf-Dieter Dube, in Expressionism; Praeger Publishers, New York, 1973, p. 126
- Art is nothing but the expression of our dream; the more we surrender to it the closer we get to the inner truth of things, our dream-life, the true life that scorns questions and does not see them.
- quote from Franz Marc's note in 1907, he wrote down on his return from Paris; as cited by de:Wolf-Dieter Dube, in Expressionism; Praeger Publishers, New York, 1973, p. 126
- I am trying to intensify my feeling for the organic rhythm in all things, trying to establish a pantheistic contact with the tremor and flow of blood in nature, in animals, in the air – trying to make it all into a picture, with new movements and with colours that reduce our old easel paintings to absurdity.
- Quote in Marc's letter to the publisher Reinhard Piper, 1908, as cited in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock, ed. Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 207
- I make the most outrageous demands on my imagination and leave aside everything else, theory and nature study, as other people understand them. This is the only way I can work, drawing on nothing but my own faculty of imagination with I feed without stint – except in working hours.
- All the pictures [in the exhibition, 1910] include a plus-factor, which robs the public [in Munich] of her pleasure but which is in every case the principal merit of the work; the completely spiritualized, de-materialized awardness of perception, which our fathers, the artists of the nineteenth century, never even tried to achieve in their 'pictures'. This bold undertaking, to take the 'matiere', which Impressionism sank its teeth into, and spiritualize it, is a necessary reaction, which began with Gauguin in Pont-Aven, and has already fostered innumerable experiments.. .The way the Munich public condemns the exhibition is almost amusing.
- Franz Marc's note on the reception of the second exhibition of the 'Neue KünstlerVereinigung' in Munich, September 1910; as cited by de:Wolf-Dieter Dube, in Expressionism; Praeger Publishers, New York, 1973, p. 125
- The harvest of your Summer  is displayed on our walls. I like some of them terrifically. The 'certainty' with which most of it is done makes me feel ashamed of myself. The thousand steps that I need to take for a picture are of no advantage, as I sometimes foolishly used to think. Things must change.
- You know my tendency is always to imagine things in my head and to work from this idea. I am going to explain my theory of blue, yellow and red, which will probably seem as 'Spanish' to you as my face.
Blue is the male principle, astringent and spiritual. Yellow is the female principle, gentle, gay and spiritual. Red is matter, brutal and heavy and always the color to be opposed and overcome by the other two. For example, if you mix serious, spiritual blue with red, you intensify the blue to unbearable sorrow, and yellow the conciliatory, the complementary color to purple, becomes indispensable.. .If you mix red and yellow to make orange, you turn passive, feminine yellow into a Fury, with sensual force that again makes cool, spiritual blue indispensable, the man..
- Dear August.. .I want to start like a child, to express my impression in front of nature with three colors and a few lines, and then add to forms and colors, where it requires the expression, that the working process is only a dedication, and never a removal. Only we painters know how stupidly difficult this is.
- In a letter to August Macke, from Sindelsdorf 12 April 1911; taken from [http://www.zeno.org/Kunst/M/Marc,+Franz/Briefe/Briefe+1897-1914/55.+Brief+an+August+Macke, (transl. F. Heijnsbroek)
- A musical event in Münich has brought me a great dolt.. ..an evening of chamber-music by Arnold Schoenberg (Vienna).. ..the audience behaved loutishly, like school brats, sneezing and clearing their throats, when not tittering and scraping their chairs, so it was hard to follow the music. Can you imagine a music in which tonality (that is, the adherence to any key) is completely suspended? I was constantly reminded of Kandinsky's large composition which also permits no trace of tonality.. ..and also of Kandinsky's 'jumping spots' in hearing this music [of Schoenberg], which allows each tone sounded to stand on its own (a kind of white canvas between the spots of color). Schönberg proceeds from the principle that the concepts of consonance and dissonance do not exist at all. A so-called dissonance is only a mere remote consonance – an idea which now occupies me constantly while painting..
- In a letter to August Macke (14 January 1911); as quoted in August Macke; Franz Marc: Briefwechsel, Cologne 1965; as quoted in Boston Modern - Figurative Expressionism as Alternative Modernism, Judith Bookbinder, University Press of New England, Hanover and England, 2005, p. 35
- Franz Marc visited a concert with music of the composer Arnold Schönberg on 11 Jan. 1911 with Wassily Kandinsky, Alexej von Jawlensky, Gabriele Münter and others; they played there compositions of Schönberg he wrote in 1907 and 1909: his second string quartet and the 'Three piano pieces'
- I am sure of one thing: many silent readers and young people full of energy will secretly be grateful to us, will be fired by enthusiasm for this book [the Blaue Reiter Almanac ] and will judge the world in accordance with it.
- Quote in a letter to Kandinsky, (c. Dec. 1911), quoted in 'Vezin 150'; as quoted in Movement, Manifesto, Melee: The Modernist Group, 1910-1914, Milton A. Cohen, Lexington Books, Sep 14, 2004, p. 67
- The editors of the Blaue Reiter will now be the starting point for new exhibitions.. .We will try to become the center of the new movement. The association may assume there the role of the new (Scholle).
- Quote from a letter to his brother (4 Dec. 1911); as cited in 'Lankheit, Almanac 14'; as quoted in 'Leaders', in Movement, Manifesto, Melee: The Modernist Group, 1910-1914, Milton A. Cohen, Lexington Books, Sep 14, 2004, p. 67
- Art today is moving in directions of which our forebears had no inkling; the Horsemen of the Apocalypse are heard galloping through the air; artistic excitement can be felt all over Europe – new artists are signalling to one another from all sides; a glance, a touch of the hand, is enough to convey understanding. [co-authored with Wassily Kandinsky ]
- In: Franz Marc's Manifesto for 'the Blaue Reiter' group, (1912); as quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 207
- We refer with pleasure and with steadfastness to the case of El Greco, because the glory of this painter is closely tied to the evolution of our new perceptions on art.
- In: 'Blaue Reiter' (1912), p. 75–76; as quoted on Wikipedia/El Greco, in 'Postumus critical reputation'
- It is impossible to explain the latest works of these wild men | that is, the artists of Der Blaue Reiter, and Die Brücke, [working in Munich, and Berlin] in terms of a formal evolution and a reinterpretation of Impressionism. The loveliest prismatic colors and the famous Cubist style have become meaningless in terms of the objectives of the iconoclasts. Their thinking has a different aim: with their labor, they want to create symbols for their era. symbols that belong on the altars of the coming spiritual religions behind which the technical producer will vanish.
- Quote of Franz Marc, in his text in the Almanac of the 'Blaue Reiter', 1912; as cited in Expressionism, a German intuition, 1905-1920, Neugroschel, Joachim; Vogt, Paul; Keller, Horst; Urban, Martin; Dube, Wolf Dieter; (transl. Joachim Neugroschel); publisher: Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, 1980, p. 95
- I cannot get over the strange conflict between my estimation of their ideas [the artists of Italian Futurism ] most of which I find brilliant and fruitful, and my view of the [their] pictures [he saw on the Walden exhibition in Berlin, Spring 2012], which strike me as, without a doubt, utterly mediocre.
- In a letter to Wassily Kandinsky, 1912; as quoted in Movement, Manifesto, Melee: The Modernist Group, 1910-1914, Milton A. Cohen, Lexington Books, Sep 14, 2004, p. 309 (note 23)
- [in a letter, several months later to August Macke Franz Marc writes about the Futurist paintings he saw in Munich: '[Their] effect is magnificent, far, far more impressive then in Cologne' (where Marc had helped Macke with hanging the Futurist exposition)].
- I can in no other way overcome my imperfections and the imperfections of life than by translating the meaning of my existence into the spiritual, into that which is independent of the mortal body, that is, the abstract.
- Quote, (August 1914); as quoted in Franz Marc, horses, ed. Christian von Holst, Hatje Cantz Publishers, (undated), 15 December 1914, p.34
- by the outbreak of World War 1. in August 1914 the animals had disappeared in Marc's art. Only colours and forms – the abstract – had to evoke the spiritual]
- There is something impressive and mystical about the artillery battles.. .I still do not think differently about the war.. .It simply seems to me feeble and lifeless to consider it vulgar and dumb. I dream of a new Europe, I.. ..see in this war the healing, if also gruesome, path to our goals; it will purify Europe, and make it ready… Europe is doing the same things to her body France did to hers during the Revolution.. ..the war is not turning me into a realist – on the contrary: I feel so strongly the meaning which hovers behind the battles, behind every bullet, so that the realism, the materialism disappears completely. Battles, wounds, motions, all appear so mystical, unreal..
- In a letter to his wife Maria, (12 September 1914); in Letters from the war, p. 4. (in a slightly modified version 'In the Purgatory of War' (Im Fegefever des Krieges), Berlin newspaper Vossische Zeitung, 15 December 1914
- In war we are all equal, but among a thousand good men, a bullet hit an irreplaceable one.. .We painters know well that with the loss of his harmony [ of August Macke ], the color in German art will become many shades paler..
- Quote of Franz Marc, in exhibition-text 'Die Blaue Reiter', Gemeentemuseum the Hague, Netherlands 2010
- c. 1914/15, on the death of his close friend August Macke, who fell in the first months of World War 1.
- The impure men and women who surrounded me (and particularly the men), did not arouse any of my real feelings; while the natural feeling for life possessed by animals set in vibration everything good in me. [from the front of World War 1.].
- In a letter to his wife, April 1915; as quoted in Artists on Art – from the 14th – 20th centuries, ed. by Robert Goldwater and Marco Treves; Pantheon Books, 1972, London, p. 444
- It is like a presentiment of the war, terrible and gripping; I can hardly realize that I painted it myself [remark on his painting 'The fate of Animals', he created in 1913]. In the hazy photograph, at any rate, it has an indefinable reality that quite made my flesh creep. It is artistically logical to paint such paintings 'before' a war, not as stupid reminiscences 'after' a war. [Marc was in 1915 soldier in World War 1.]. For one should paint constructive, prophetic pictures, not souvenirs, as is the usual fashion. And those are all I have in mind. It used to puzzle me sometimes, but now I know why it has to be like that. But these old pictures [his paintings, he made before the War] from the autumn Salon are sure to be resurrected again..
- Quote in a letter to his wife Maria, 17 April 1915; as cited in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 445
- For days I have seen nothing but the most awful scenes that the human mind can imagine.. .Stay calm and don't worry: I will come back to you – the war will end this year. I must stop; the transport of the wounded, which will take this letter along, is leaving. Stay well and calm as I do. [from the battlefield at Verdun]
- In a letter to his wife Maria (2 March 1916), from the battlefield at Verdun; as cited in Letters from the war: Franz Marc, new edition by Klaus Lankheit & Uwe Steffen, American University Studies, Vol. 16, p. 113
- Don't worry, I will come through, and I'm also fine as far as my health goes. I feel well and watch myself.
- In a letter to his wife Maria (4 March 1916, the day he died by shrapnel), in Letters from the war: Franz Marc, new edition by Klaus Lankheit & Uwe Steffen, American University Studies, Vol. 16, p. 113
The 'Savages' of Germany (1912)
- The 'Savages' of Germany, Franz Marc, in Der Blaue Reiter (Blue Rider) Almanak, Munich, 1912
- In this time of the great struggle for a new art we fight like disorganized 'savages' against an old, established power. The battle seems to be unequal, but spiritual matters are never decided by numbers, only by the power of ideas. The dreaded weapons of the 'savages' are their new ideas. New ideas kill better than steel and destroy what was thought to be indestructible.
- Who are these 'savages' in Germany? For the most part they are both well-known and widely disparaged: Die Brücke in Dresden, the 'Neue Sezession' in Berlin, and 'Die Neue Vereinigung' in Munich.
- It is impossible to explain the recent works of these 'savages' as a formal development and new interpretation of Impressionism.. .The most beautiful prismatic colors and the celebrated Cubism are now meaningless goals for these 'savages'.
- Their thinking has a different aim: To create out of their work symbols for their own time, symbols that belong on the altars of a future spiritual religion, symbols behind which the technical heritage cannot be seen. Scorn and stupidity will be like roses in their path.
- It can be sensed that there is a new religion arising in the country, still without a prophet, recognized by no one. Religions die slowly. But the artistic style that was the inalienable possession of an earlier era collapsed catastrophically in the middle of the nineteenth century [German Romanticism? ]. There has been no style since.. .Since then, serious art has been the work of individual artists whose art has had nothing to do with 'style' because they were not in the least connected with the style or the needs of the masses. Their works arose rather in defiance of their times. They are characteristic, fiery signs of a new era that increase daily everywhere. This book [The 'Almanak'], initiated by Franz Marc & Kandinsky ] will be their focus..
- What appears spectral today will be natural tomorrow. Where are such signs and works? How do we recognize the genuine ones? Like everything genuine, its inner life guarantees its truth. All works of art created by truthful minds without regard for the work's conventional exterior remain genuine for all times.. .The present isolation of the rare, genuine artist is absolutely unavoidable for the moment.. .This fact leads us to the idea that we are standing today at the turning point of two long epochs, similar to the state of the world fifteen hundred years ago, when there was also a transitional period without art and religion - a period in which great and traditional ideas died and new and unexpected ones took their place.
- We are also convinced that we can already proclaim the first signs of the time. The first works of a new era are tremendously difficult to define. Who can see clearly what their aim is and what is to come; But just the fact that they do exist and appear in many places today, sometimes independently of each other, and that they possess inner truth, makes us certain that they are the first signs of the coming new epoch.. .The hour is unique. Is it too daring to call attention to the small, unique signs of the time?
100 Aphorisms (1915)
- 100 Aphorisms, Franz Marc (1915); as quoted in Artists on Art – from the 14th – 20th centuries, ed. by Robert Goldwater and Marco Treves; Pantheon Books, 1972, London
- Is there any more mysterious idea for an artist than the conception of how nature is mirrored in the eyes of an animal? How does a horse see the world, or an eagle, or a doe, or a dog?
- p. 445
- What relation has a 'doe' to our picture of the world? Does it make any logical, or even artistic, sense, to paint the doe as it appears to our perspective vision, or in a cubistic form because we feel the world cubistically? It feels it as a doe, and its landscape must also be 'doe'.. .I can paint a picture: the roe; Pisanello has painted such. I can, however, also wish to paint a picture: 'the roe feels'. How infinitely sharper an intellect must the painter have, in order to paint this! The Egyptians have done it. The rose; Manet has painted that. Who has painted the flowering rose? The Indians..
- p. 445
- There is little abstract art, today, and what there is is stammering and imperfect. It is an attempt to let the world speak for itself, instead of reporting the speech of mind excited by their picture of the world. The Greek, The Gothic, and the Renaissance artist set forth the world the way he saw it, felt it, and wished to have it; man wished above all to be nourished by art; he achieved his desire but sacrificed everything else to this one aim: to construct homunculus, to substitute knowledge for strength and skill for spirit. The ape aped his creator. He learned to put art itself to the ends of trade..
- p. 445
- Only today can art be metaphysical, and it will continue to be so. Art will free itself from the needs and desires of men. We will no longer paint a forest or a horse as we please or as they seem to us, but as they really are.
- p. 445
- The people itself ( and I do not mean the 'masses') has always given art its essential style. The artist merely clarifies and fullfils the will of the people. But when the people does not know what it wants, or worst of all, wants nothing.. ..then its artists, driven to seeking their own forms, remain isolated, and become martyrs.. .Folk art – that is, the feeling of people for artistic form – can arise again only when the whole jumble of worn-out art concepts of the nineteenth century has been wiped from the memory of generations.
- p. 445-446
- Max Beckmann's opinion on this issue you find in: 'Quotes About Franz Marc', below
- The day is not far distant on which Europeans – the few Europeans who will still remain – will suddenly become painfully aware of their lack of formal concepts. Then will these unhappy people bewail their wretched state and become seekers after form. They will not seek the new form in the past, in the outward world, or in the stylized appearances of nature, but they will build up their form from within themselves, in the light of their new knowledge that turned the old world fable into a world form, and the old world view into a world insight. [written at the front of World War 1. - near Verdun, 1915]
- pp. 445-446
- The art of the future will give form to our scientific convictions; this is our religion and our truth, and it is profound and weighty enough to produce the greatest style and the greatest revaluation of form that the world has ever seen. Today, instead of using the laws of nature as a means of artistic expression, we pose the religious problems of a new content. The art of our time will surely have profound analogies with the art of primitive periods long past, without of course, the formalistic similarities now senselessly sought by many archaist artists [Marc rejects abstraction of Cubism, among others]. And our time will just as surely be followed in some distant, ripe, late European future by another period of cool maturity, which in its turn will again set up its own formal laws and traditions. [written at the front of World War 1. - near Verdun, 1915]
- p. 446
Quotes about Franz Marc
- Both of us loved blue, Franz Marc horses.. .Hence the name 'Der Blaue Reiter' [The Blue Rider - also the title of the publication in the 'Munich Almanac', edited by Kandinsky and Franz Marc]
- The laws of art are eternal and don't change at all, as the moral laws don't change in human beings.
- Max Beckmann; as cited in the catalog Nationalgalerie Berlin, DDR, 1986, p. 109 (commenting here the exhibition 'Expressionisten, die Avantgarde in Deutschland 1905 -1920')
- Beckmann was here discussing with Franz Marc, who was demanding in the art-Journal Der Blaue Reiter of 1912: 'a new art, in relation to its own - - changing!! - time'.
- I have just been thinking that the Blaue Reiter (Blue Rider) does not really represent my work. I have always been convinced that other things of mine are more important.. .Narcism, fake heroism, and blindness have a lot to answer for, in the Blaue Reiter. All those high-sounding words about the birth of a great spiritual moment still resounding in my ears. Kandinsky can air his personal opinion about that or any other revolution he cares to mention. But I dislike the whole thing.. .Take my advice – work, and don't spent so much time thinking about blue riders or blue horses.
- I found time to ask [Franz Marc] about these [German Expressionist] artistic endeavors in Germany, the subject of an impassioned conflict for some time before the war. Because of my professional activity in America in the years preceding the war, I had almost no contact with German artists. Thus I had never seen any paintings by Marc or by his friend August Macke, whose death at the beginning of the war had deeply distressed Marc.. .I never had the opportunity to express to this master how deeply the spirit of his unique art moved me. What fantasy and, at the same time, what logical constructions could be discerned in Marc's creations - how consistent this development had been from his impressionist beginnings to the abstract compositions of his last years!
- William R. Valentiner, in his Diary, before 1915; as cited by Stephanie Barron, in The Embrace of Expressionism: The Vagaries of Its Reception in America, German Expressionist Prints and Drawings: The Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies 1 (Munich: Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Prestel Verlag, 1989, p. 134-135
- How do Marc's views about the war [World War 1.] impact on our response to his art? Our appreciation of the Utopian underpinnings to [Franz] Marc's art – whether idealist representations of animals or premonitions of war – is heightened. We are made more aware of how Marc's art is linked in mood and content to European avantgarde art at this time, just as it is embedded in the tradition of German Romanticism.
- Mark Dober, in Franz Marc: utopian hopes for art and the Great War, 23.Apr. 2013, on Overland