Contextual Research CPS 3302 Studio Practice 3301 Year 3

Contextual Post – Franz Marc (Colour)

Franz Marc was a German painter and printer who was influenced to create vibrant coloured artworks through inspiration from the cubists and Henry Matisse. Animals feature quite a lot in his work and are easily noticeable even when the forms of animals merge together.

I felt that researching Franz Marc was essential especially due to his abstract colour schemes in a lot of his work as I have started to use vibrant colours in my own work and this will inform these decisions in a contextual sense. Franz Marc uses a lot of complementary colours in his works which I find fascinating as these combinations are one of the first ways I like to incorporate colour into my work.

Information about Franz Marc’s ‘Yellow Cow’ – 1911

Information from the video:

  • Happy picture of a cow
  • Franz Marc rejected the notion of the city, all the sounds of the city and the pollution, the corruption, the materialism. He retreated into the countryside in the Alps to commune with nature. He became very drawn to animal life and spent a lot of his time painting horses and cows as he believed that animals had a god-like presence and power.
  • Marc believed that yellow was a feminine colour embodying sensuality and warmth. While the blues tended to embody the male, the masculine and the intellect, the spirit. A curious combination of these two colours in this painting. All of the experts believe that this is a rather odd marriage portrait as he had recently gotten married for the second time, experiencing the joy of new love. Embodied in the cow

Information learned from video:

  • Franz Marc died on the frontline in World War 1 with his sketchbook with him which had drawings of animals and landscapes with violent lines
  • He liked to visit different museums and learn about different art circles
  • He founded the Blue Rider Group in 1911 (Der Bleue Reiter) which I have done another research page into. The name came from Marc’s love of horses and another group member, Kandinsky’s, love of riders which they combined with their love of the colour blue
  • Marc saw the colour blue as “the masculine principle, astringent and spiritual”
  • Marc saw the colour yellow as “the female principle, gentle, gay and sensuous”
  • Marc saw the colour red as “matter, brutal and heavy and always the colour that the other two must oppose and overcome”
  • The blue colour represented spirituality to both of the founders, something bigger and more powerful than ourselves
  • “On the whole, instinct has never failed to guide me…especially the instinct which led me away from man’s awareness of life and towards that of a ‘pure’ animal…an animal’s unadulterated awareness of life made me respond with everything that was good” – Marc talking about why he decided to focus on animals rather than humans, they are purer and have more harmony than humans.
  • Humanity is corrupted by industry and modern life but animals have a pure innocence. Humans can only access the spirituality of nature through animals
  • He reproduced paintings of blue horses throughout his artistic life are one of the best searches for spirituality.
  • In ‘Blue Horse I (1911)’, the horse replicates the shapes of the hills which allows the colours to create harmony through the combinations of blue, yellow and red. However, ‘Blue Horse II (1911)’ depicts an image of the backside of the horse as if we are seeing what the horse is. The crucial difference of the two paintings is that the view from the horses perspective has no red, no brutal or violent colours which puts across Marc’s idea effectively
  • ‘The Large Blue Horses’ (1911) show harmony between horses and nature. The organic shapes show harmony yet are only different through the different uses of saturated colour
  • The war approaching led Marc to change his art style, becoming more interested in violent outlooks and darker spirituality
  • Robert Delauney introduced him to cubism and futurism
  • ‘The Tower of Blue Horses’ (1913) is more dynamic and violent than his previous horse artworks. This painting was confiscated by the nazis and deemed to be degenerate art which was going to be exposed in a degenerate art exhibition. This didn’t happen due to Marc’s death and the painting got lost at the end of world war 2

How Franz Marc’s work is influencing my project:

I was suggested to research into Franz Marc’s work during my crit to inform my uses of colour in my project which was a good idea as colour is an important part of my project and Franz Marc was a master of colour in his time. His work is very abstract which is interesting to apply to my own work as I am trying to show the irony of people claiming to care about animals in captivity but never doing anything to help them in the real world, it is a subject that is so normalised and overlooked and so I am trying to explore this idea in a subtle way without being too extreme or violent.

My work inspired by Franz Marc’s use of colour:

These are two of my current paintings in which I was inspired by Franz Marc’s use of blue and yellow. I feel that these paintings are very successful and were related to Franz Marc by my peers so I believe that they worked well. I prefer the yellow shade in the first painting but I felt that the yellow shade in the second painting balanced with the purple shade nicely.

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