Monday, May 17, 2010

Picture of the Week No. 22 - Franz Marc

The Munich born artist Franz Marc was a founder member of the important German Expressionist group Der Blaue Reiter. His use of bold coloursand the way he intertwines futurist inspired motifs with a love for animals and the natural world mark out his unique vision. He was due to be recalled from his conscripted service in the First World War as part of a list of 'notable artists' in service, but was killed by shrapnel from a shell before he could recieve the order. This striking woodcut, a medium so typical of the German Expresionists, has all the key components of Marc's work with the intense contrast of the black ink on thin Japan paper displaying his strong sense of form without the distractions of his obvious abilities as a colourist. KP

Franz MARC (1880-1916)
Tierlegende (Animal Legend), 1912
woodcut on thin Japan paper with wirelines, 19.8 × 24.1cm
inscribed: F, Marc and 10
Accession No.: P.777

PROVENANCE: Originally from the Heinrich Neuerburg (1880-1956) Collection and later Dr Walter Neuerburg (1912-86). Heinrich started collecting prints after 1945 on the advice of Hermann Schnitzler of the SchnĆ¼tgen Museum; acquired for the Gallery by Garton and Co. from Christie’s, Lot 420, 2 December 1992.
REFERENCES: K. Lankheit, Franz Marc, Katalog der Werke, 831 III, 1978.
NOTES: From the first small edition hand-printed by Marc himself. There are later, unsigned editions that were published in 1912 and 1919.

CATALOGUE ENTRY: This is a rare contemporary impression, signed by Marc himself; his wife usually signed them. Marc was killed in action at Verdun in 1916 at the age of thirty-six. His output was relatively small, producing only forty-six prints, but the most important were the twenty-two he produced in 1912-14. Marc described how the technique of the woodcut helped to clarify his style during this period. Tierlegende is the largest and finest of these and is typical of the type of subjects chosen by Marc. The print was published in Der Sturm in September 1912 and later, posthumously, in Genius in 1919.

Marc initially studied philosophy and theology at Munich University, but following a bout of depression in 1907 he went on to explore pantheism. This, coupled with daily visits to Berlin Zoo, confirmed his interest in both the anatomy and spirituality of animals. Prior to joining Kandinsky and the spiritually-inspired group, der Blaue Reiter in Munich in 1910, Marc had spent a period in Paris where he came into close contact with the Cubists. CB

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