Discovering Great Paintings

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Franz Marc

German, 1880 -1916

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Are you having a gloomy grey day or a bright and happy yellow day?

Is your day mysteriously purple or light and freshly green?

Think that animals are gentler on nature than we oh-so-destructive humans?


With thoughts like these you are ready to enter the world of Franz Marc!


Franz Marc didn't much like what he saw in people around him.

Look how they destroyed the environment with their ugly cities!

Animals were much better at working in harmony with nature.

His caring for the natural world was so important to Franz

that he expressed these feelings by painting animals instead of people.


That's why he is described as an Expressionist painter.


His paintings are full of graceful cows, horses and deer curving their way through

peaceful landscapes, painted in bright, colours and filled with light.

For Franz, colours were symbols. Blue was a male colour, stern and spiritual.

Red and yellow were female colours, full of playfulness and joy.

Lines were symbols too. Soft curved lines were symbols of harmony, peace and balance.


Are The Little Blue Horse and The Yellow Cow starting to make a bit more sense....?



Oops! Just got that all sorted out, but now what's happening here...?

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How do you think peace-loving Franz felt with World War I about to explode?


These two paintings express how Franz felt perfectly!

Gone are the peaceful curves.

Now his lines are harsh and angled, or tangled and confused.

The animals have changed too. Just look at those wolves! A pack of three approaches

from the right, while a fourth wolf turns to fight them or to escape the flames that are

reflected on its body.

In the middle of the picture, a wolf is asleep or dead.

The one in the distance looks menacingly out of the painting.


There's terror in this painting! Harsh lines and dark colours, green flames

and purple explosions of smoke make a violent and dangerous setting.

The only symbol of beauty - the pink flowers - are dying.

Franz painted The Wolves just before the war started.


Fighting Forms, on the right, was painted during the war.

The shapes battle together in tangled, swirling colours.

Can you see the eagle with his claw-like beak and claws - a bird of prey, ready for the kill!


Franz Marc was killed at Verdun, France in 1916.