Saturday, February 20, 2010

Die grossen blauen Pferde by Franz Marc... I have a problem with you.

Die grossen blauen Pferde by Franz Marc
Oil on canvas

The first thing that came to my head when seeing this painting is, "This is... quaint." If there's one thing I can't stand, it's something that can't surpass "quaint". Quaint is the equivalent to a fake smile and weak handshake. It's sugar coating dinosaur fecal matter. I don't look at war and see flowers and horses trotting about. That would be a lie to myself. This painting is a pretty sunset with some blue horses. Is this some form of escapism from reality? So who is Franz Marc? What can I take from this painting to figure out about this man? From the title of the painting I can tell he's either German or Austrian. That's about all I know. With researching Franz Marc, I'm hoping to find out more than just a painting that looks great in some yuppie house from the 90s.

My guess as to him being either German or Austrian was correct. Franz Marc was born in Munich, Germany in 1880. His dad was a professional landscape painter and his mom was a strict Calvinist (which, according to Wikipedia, is "a theological system and an approach to the Christian life"). Marc attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. He frequented France, involved himself in artist circles, loved van Gogh, visited Greece with his brother, had a troubling love life, yadda yadda yadda. I'm still not interested. I need something to make Franz Marc seem interesting, not like an average, quaint (there's that word again) artist. Come on, Franz. Change my mind!

Here's something interesting (finally)... in 1911 (why, isn't that the same year the painting that caused all of this was created?!) Franz Marc formed the Der Bluae Reiter artist circle. In 1912 he met Robert Delaunay, who ended up majorly influencing Franz Marc. Alas, this time goes beyond the time of the painting and though he seems to finally catch my interest, I need to stop here. I need to focus on the painting itself and find a convincing argument within it to change my mind (at least a little bit, perhaps?).
According to the Walker Art Center website, "The Blue Rider (Der Bluae Reiter) ceased representing the 'real' world and, instead, painted visions derived from the 'inner mind.'" Okay Franz, I'll give you that. But why? Why escape reality in a way that makes me think nothing but the word I'm sick of using? The Walker's site continues to explain the painting. Franz chose horses because of his belief that animals have a "purer, more sublime relationship with the world". I'm also informed that the blue and the line is to show "their spiritual harmony with nature." Okay, Franz. This painting doesn't seem as bad to me now. It makes sense. Animals are extremely pure, I agree. I also agree that they are spiritually harmonious with the world and nature.
It looks like you were a pretty smart fellow, Mr. Franz Marc. You win, you win. Your painting isn't just some quaint, sugar coated image of some horses. Even though the meaning is great, I'm still not visually attracted to the piece (slightly more than before though, I must admit). I guess the best way for me to end it is saying that the meaning behind the painting is great. It's a beautiful thought to have (but I'm still going to stand by the fact I think it'd look great in a yuppie's house from the 90s). Good game, Franz Marc. Good game.



  1. This picture stuck out to me on that wall full of work, but I guess I had a different reaction to it then you did

  2. I love the meaning behind the piece; I never would have guessed.