Germany • 1880−1916
Franz Mark (German Franz Marc, February 8, 1880, Munich, Germany - March 4, 1916, Verdun, France) Is a German expressionist painter who, together with Vasily Kandinsky, founded the Blue Horseman art association and anthology.

Features of the work of Franz Marc: the artist has painted animals all his life, considering them to be higher beings and trying to find in their life a special feeling of himself within nature that has been lost by modern man. Mark did not watch the animals from the side, but looked at the world through their eyes. Franz Marc’s paintings are characterized by sharp color transitions, a bright, clean palette, intense, sharp forms, often cubist in later paintings.

Famous paintings by Franz Marc: "The fate of animals", The Tower of the Blue Horses, "Foxes", "Tyrol", “Roe deer in the forest”.

Franz Moritz Wilhelm Mark has always been a dreamer who loved horses and talked with his dog. In childhood, he dreamed of the work of a village priest, in his youth - of a marriage of pity, by the end of his short life - of cleansing the world by war. None of these fantasies came true - Franz Mark was waiting for a completely different fate, which did not want to know anything about his extravagant dreams.

An artist, not a priest

Little Franz was very smart, quiet and thoughtful, still in the gymnasium carried away by Nietzsche. In fact, it is difficult to imagine a tomboy in the family of a lawyer father and a Calvinist mother. His elder brother Paul became a Byzantine scholar, and Franz without hesitation chose theology and philosophy department of the University of Munich. Everything was very serious in this family.

It is impossible to guess now what impressions or events occurred during the passage of Franz Mark's military service, but after she returned with a completely firm decision to give up philosophy and start painting. Then a good ten years of intense search for his path will follow: he will go to the Academy of Arts and be disappointed in academic education, he will go to Paris to copy the canvases of old masters and become numb with enthusiasm for the paintings Van Gogh and GauguinHe will be carried away for a short while modern and romanticism.

By the time of the meeting with Wassily Kandinsky in 1911, Franz Marc already found out everything about himself: Brema's “Life of Animals” was his reference book, the zoo was his favorite place for drawing exercises, the main source for studying nature was the exhibits of the Zoological Museum, and each color on its palette acquired its own character and meaning. “I want to sharpen my perception of the organic rhythm of all things, to expand the pantheistic sensation of the world, the living pulsating blood flow in nature, trees, animals and air ... I don’t know a better way of such an“ animation ”of art than the image of animals”.

No matter how many horses, roe deer and dogs Mark wrote, no sensible art critic called him an “animalist” - the image of animals for the artist becomes a new dream, an attempt to look at the world through the eyes of the beast.

The first almanac "Blue Horseman" Kandinsky and Mark created together. They came up with a name (because both loved the blue, Kandinsky — the riders, Mark — the horses), selected and edited materials, and set out to create the world's first “synthetic book.” Handwritten musical scores, children's drawings, folk art, avant-garde painting and sculpture, philosophical and art essays - all this stood nearby, breaking the boundaries of art.

The "Blue Horseman" later began to be called the artistic association of young artists gathered around Mark and Kandinsky. And a few years later the First World War began, forever leaving the first issue of the almanac the only one. The Blue Horseman is both of us, me and Mark. ” - Kandinsky said later and even after the war he refused to revive this project. Without Mark.

Not that Maria

Few knew Mark better than Wassily Kandinsky: “He looked like a resident of the mountains with his extraordinary growth, broad shoulders, thin face, black hair, with his manner to walk sweepingly. In the city, he seemed so massive, so inappropriate. It was better to see him among the mountains, meadows and forests. There he was "at home." He was always accompanied by a large white dog named Russi, who resembled the owner with a mess of appearance, strength and a certain triangular appearance ... They miraculously complemented and understood each other. Black said something to White in a gentle voice, and White nodded his head in reply.. With animals, Mark has always been easier than with people.

Mark's personal life was confusing and exhausting, he was uncomfortable and cramped in these respects, as it was closely in the city. Neither a stormy romance with married artist Anette von Ekardt, nor a mysterious marriage of mercy with Maria Schnyur brought Franz happiness, he was never “at home” with them. Another Maria, Maria Franz, was not a bohemian beauty, she was not particularly sophisticated, snub-nosed and chubby, was like a peasant woman. But it was she, sincere and open, who became his refuge, his home and his happiness. For four years, lovers had to wait for the divorce of their first marriage in order to finally get married and never part.

Terrible war instead of updating

Franz Marc is not the only young sincere German who went to war in World War I for the idea of global renewal and purification of Europe. These thoughts were in the air - just Mark, unlike many others, frantically beautifully formulated them: “the war will be a breakthrough to a new Europe, a breakthrough, even cruel, but beneficial ”,“ now we need to shut up and give the word of world history ”,“ the war does not turn me into a realist - on the contrary ... Battles, wounds, movements - everything seems so mystical unreal ". In addition to all his other abilities, he had a talent, by the way, in some personal letter, to express ideas that were important for the whole generation very capaciously and to the point. That is why not only art critics write about his life, but also historians, researchers of this world-wide bloody meat grinder.

The closest friends of Mark's enthusiastic expectations do not support: Paul Klee even his military uniform is despised, Kandinsky is forced to leave for Russia and does not accept the price that Europe will have to pay for purification, a 27-year-old August Macke He died in battle and made no sense of his arguments in favor of war with his death. Enlightenment came to Franz along with the first serious battles: "The cadaverous smell for miles around is unbearable" he writes in a letter to his wife.

Death instead of life

The German government in 1916 prepared a list of important artists for the country, who should be freed from military service. Franz Marc was on the list, but never found out. Like in a classic movie, where the fact of death alone is not enough for the hero’s spectacular departure, Mark died a few days before the order was delivered to the front. He was wounded in the battle of Verdun, one of the bloodiest in the history of the First World War. Then both sides lost about a million people - but even the death of the great artist and dreamer Franz Mark did not bring Europe the expected purification. Hope remained only on the art of which he spoke: “Art is nothing but an expression of a dream. The more we surrender to him, the closer we come to the inner truth of things ”.

Author: Anna Sidelnikova
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