The painter, draughtsman and graphic artist Franz Marc, one of the founders of the artists' association "Der Blaue Reiter", is one of the most important representatives of German Expressionism. Among his companions, August Macke and Wassily Kandinsky were particularly important for his artistic path. A part of Marc's artistic legacy is exhibited in the Franz Marc Museum in Kochel. In addition, his works can be found in the most important museums and private collections worldwide, such as the Lenbachhaus and the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich, the Kunstmuseum Basel, the Art Institute of Chicago or the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.
Franz Marc was born in Munich on 8 February 1880 as the second son of the landscape and genre painter Wilhelm and Sophie Marc, who came from Alsace in France. Already in his school days Franz Marc was interested in classical philology, theology, literature and philosophy. While he initially decided to study philosophy, he enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich in 1900 after completing his one-year military service. He was taught there in the tradition of the 19th century, which meant that his early works were influenced by the naturalistic style of academicism. In 1903 Marc travelled to Paris for the first time and came into contact with the new trend of Impressionism and the art of Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh. He was also inspired by Gothic architecture with its artistically designed stained glass windows. After his journey Franz Marc leaves the academy of arts and works in seclusion. He discovers animal depictions as his preferred motif. He experimented with different styles such as Fauvism, Cubism, Futurism and Orphism, without separating himself completely from the representational. In 1910 he met August Macke and a lifelong friendship developed. Through him, the industrialist and art patron Bernhard Koehler became aware of him, who from then on supported the artist financially. Marc found his personal artistic style. Encouraged by Wassily Kandinsky and Gabriele Münter, Marc became a member of the "New Artists' Association Munich" for a short time in 1911, and became increasingly involved with various colour phenomena. In the same year the three painters left the artists' association and founded the group "Der Blaue Reiter", inspired by Marc's favourite motif of horses and his preference for the colour blue. Together with painters such as Paul Klee and August Macke, the Blue Rider circle publishes an artists' almanac of the same name. Other artists of the Blaue Reiter circle include Alexej von Jawlensky, Alfred Kubin, Robert Delaunay and many others. In 1913 and 1914 Marc's first abstract works were created. In addition to his work in the visual arts, his theoretical engagement with art, art-political activities and writings is important until today. At only 36 years of age, he was mortally wounded by a shell splinter in Braquis near Verdun on 4 March 1916 during the war.