The Bavarian Alps and the Franz Marc Museum

I haven’t been in the studio much for the past week, but that’s okay. I was down in Garmisch-Partenkirchen taking in breathtaking views of the German Alps. Even though the weather has been cloudy, snowy, and otherwise gloomy for months here, we nevertheless had one bright, crisp day.

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Yes, I know. It almost feels like Julie Andrews is about to come running and singing through the town square. It would be cheesy if it wasn’t just so awesome! And the food was pretty great, too!

Anyway, on the day that we had pretty poor weather, we decided to forego our trip up the Zugspitz (highest peak in Germany) and went to the Franz Marc Museum instead.

Cold and gray. Great day to go to a museum!
Cold and gray. Great day to go to a museum!

I’ve loved Franz Marc’s work since I saw this painting at the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C.

Deer in the Forest I, 1913, Oil on Canvas (Source: Phillips Collection)

I love this painting because it is simultaneously still and dynamic, soothing and colorful. For me, Marc’s paintings of animals offer a retreat from the world of people without becoming saccharine. He saves his images from sentimentality by pursuing a higher spiritual purpose in his art. Unfortunately, Marc was killed in The Great War only about three years after he began to develop this style. Even though the museum’s collection was limited, it showed the evolution of his work from experiments in Impressionism and Fauvism, to his own unique blend of Cubism and Futurist elements. Though his career was cut short, his work influenced a whole generation of German Expressionists who followed him.

Marc painted all kinds of animals, but he seemed most in love with horses and painted them repeatedly, in different styles.

Small Horse Study, 1909, Oil on Canvas (Source: Wikimedia)
Jumping Horse, 1912, Oil on Canvas (Source: Franz Marc Museum)

I’ve been dabbling with printmaking lately, so I was excited the museum was holding a special exhibit of Marc’s prints. Here are some of my favorites. All of them happen to be horses, too:

Resting Horses, 1911, Woodcut (Source: Wikimedia)
Horse and Hedgehog, Unknown Date, Woodcut (Soure: Wikimedia)
Riding School According to Ridinger, Unknown Date, Woodcut

After I came home from my trip, I read more about Marc and learned that after he was conscripted into the German military during World War I, he spent time making camouflage covers for artillery. It was the first war in which camouflage came into wide use and artists on both sides were pioneers in its development. Marc created his hand-painted versions using pointilism and techniques borrowed from Wassily Kandinsky and Claude Monet. Sadly, Marc’s life ended on March 14, 1916 when he was struck by a shell at the Battle of Verdun.

Before his conscription, Marc created his most well-known and stunning work, Tierschicksale (The Fate of Animals). He later wrote to his wife during the war saying the painting was ” like a premonition of this war—horrible and shattering. I can hardly conceive that I painted it.”

The Fate of Animals, 1913, Oil on Canvas (Source: Wikimedia)

Sources: Wikipedia, Franz Marc Museum

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