Franz Marc (February 8, 1880, Munich - March 4, 1916, Verdun) was one of the principal painters of the German expressionist movement.
Marc was born in Munich and studied at the Munich Art Academy starting in 1900. In 1903 and 1907 he spent time in Paris and discovered a strong affinity for the work of Vincent Van Gogh. Marc developed an important friendship with the artist August Macke in 1910. In 1911 he formed the Blaue Reiter artist circle with Macke, Wassily Kandinsky, and other artists who had decided to split off from the Neue Künstlervereinigung movement.
Marc showed several of his works in the first Blaue Reiter exhibition, which was held at the Thannhauser Gallery in Munich between December 1911 and January 1912. The exhibition was the apex of the German expressionist movement and also showed in Berlin, Köln, Hagen, and Frankfurt. In 1912, Marc also met Robert Delaunay, whose use of color and Futurism was the next major influence on Marc's own work. Marc began becoming increasingly influenced by Futurism and Cubism, and his art became increasingly stark and abstract in nature.
Most of his mature work portrays animals, usually in natural settings. His work is characterized by bright primary color, an almost cubist portrayal of the animals, stark simplicity and a profound sense of emotion. This got him noticed in influential circles even in his own time.
Marc's most famous single painting is probably Tierschicksale (variously known as "Animal Destinies" or "Fate of the Animals", illustration, right), completed in 1913, which hangs in the Basel Kunstmuseum in Basel.
His name was on a list of notable artists to be withdrawn from combat in World War I. Marc was killed in action at the Battle of Verdun in 1916 before these orders were carried out. He was hit with a grenade splinter while on patrol; significantly, he was riding a horse.
In October, 1998, several of Marc's paintings garnered record prices at Christie's art auction house in London.