FRANZ MARC (1880-1916) Pferd und Rind 4 3/4 x 6 in. (12 x 15.1cm)

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Lot 24
Pferd und Rind 4 3/4 x 6 in. (12 x 15.1cm)

Sold for US$ 245,000 inc. premium
FRANZ MARC (1880-1916)
Pferd und Rind
gouache on paper
4 3/4 x 6 in. (12 x 15.1cm)


    Estate of the Artist, with associated inscription 'Nachlaß Franz Marc/ Bestätigt Maria Marc'.
    Emil Hirsch, Munich and New York.
    Buchholz Gallery (Curt Valentin), 1940.
    Mr and Mrs Matthew H. Futter, New York, and thence by descent.

    Hannover, Kestner-Gesellschaft, Franz Marc: Gedächtnis-Ausstellung, 4 March - 19 April 1936, no. 108.
    Berlin, Galerie Nierendorf, Franz Marc: Gedächtnis-Ausstellung, 1936, no. 65 (incorrectly dated 1911).
    New York, Buchholz Gallery, 11 November - 7 December 1940, no. 4 (as 'Horse and Bull, watercolor, 1911').

    F. Marc, Skizzenbuch XXIX (according to Schardt).
    A.J. Schardt, Franz Marc, Berlin, 1936, no. II-1911[sic]-7.
    K. Lankheit, Franz Marc: Katalog der Werke, Cologne, 1970, no. 625 (illustrated).
    A. Hoberg and I. Jansen, Franz Marc: The Complete Works, London, 2011, vol. III, p. 255 (illustrated).

    "I try to heighten my sensitivity to the organic rhythm inherent in all things, try to hone a pantheistic, empathetic sense for the quivering and trickling blood in nature, in trees, in animals, in the air [...] I see no more felicitous means to 'animalize' art than the depiction of beasts."
    Franz Marc, 1910.

    In 1913, the year the present work was drawn, Franz Marc was at the height of his powers. During this critical moment in his career there were two artists who were extremely influential in helping Marc climb to new heights: Wassily Kandisky and Robert Delaunay. Each artist offered Marc a new stylistic and formal means of painting as well as a connection point beyond his German peers to the wider European avant-garde. Pferd und rind clearly shows how inspired he was by these influences.

    Marc took his early training from the Bavarian Historicist painters Gabriel von Hackl (1843–1926) and Wilhelm von Dietz (1839–1907) at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich. Even at this early stage however he questioned the stale academicism of his teachers, often painting en plein air, in marked contrast to his studio-bound professors, in the mountains of Upper Bavaria near Lenggries. He returned to the area regularly through his career. Marc suffered a mental crisis after leaving the Academy, in 1903 escaping from Munich to France. The artistic revolution that had overtaken the French capital in the late 19th Century had largely passed Bavaria by. Indeed the new approach was much mocked in Germany as a whole. Marc's experimentation did not avoid this criticism. His exposure to new art in Paris, and particularly to Van Gogh and the Post-Impressionists, opened his eyes to new possibilities in painting.

    On his return to Bavaria, Marc interacted occasionally with younger artist circles but more frequently worked in relative seclusion in the mountains. His meeting with Auguste Macke in 1910 marked a fuller engagement with the avante-garde, but it was his meeting and close collaboration with Wassily Kandinsky from 1911 that sparked his most revolutionary inspiration. Marc and Kandinsky shared a similar character and outlook. Not only did they see the future of painting as less representative and indeed perhaps free of literal elements, but they also believed in the potential for art break free of its materiality and raise the self to a higher plane. By moving towards a more evocative abstraction, the essential element of the work could be translated to the viewer stripped of distracting visual encumbrance. Even by suggesting that the audience could enter a dialogue with the work they were breaking new Modernist ground.

    Marc moved towards abstraction by means of an increasingly stylized and hieratic visual vocabulary. By 1910 he had settled on animals as potent symbols with which to represent his spiritual exploration. He increasingly eschewed a naturalistic representation of pastures and landscapes, allowing the energy and rhythm of his depiction of the animals to spread across the picture space. In the iconic paintings and drawings made in 1911-13 animals become a vehicle through which the artist could explore the spirituality that he was searching for in his work. The visual language Marc uses is strongly reminiscent of the Futurists and Orphic cubists such as Robert Delaunay in their use of prismatic, vibrating bands of color dotted across the composition. Marc had met Robert Delaunay in Paris in 1912 with August and Elisabeth Macke, probably at the introduction of Bernard Koehler. Koehler had been an influential early patron of both artists: the exchange of ideas at this critical juncture for them both was to prove extremely fruitful.

    As Peter Selz noted 'Marc's horses are free and untamed, moving swiftly in the enjoyment of their life or standing together in close harmony with the surrounding landscape.' (P. Selz, German Expressionist Painting, Berkeley, 1974, p. 202). They are uncontaminated by human contact, appearing to be not of this world but glorying in intense and vivid colors. The palette of the Pferd und rind gives an otherworldly sense, a mystical aura of another time and place. It is as though the creatures are in their own world untouched and untouchable.

    As Marc wrote to his wife Maria in the year before his tragically early death in the Battle of Verdun, a passage that summed up his spiritual program: 'Early in my life I found men ugly and animals seemed to me lovelier and purer; but even in them I discovered so much conflict and feeling and such ugliness that instinctively, from inner necessity, my representations became more schematic and abstract. The impious men and women that surrounded me (especially the men) did not arouse my real feelings, while the natural, undisturbed feeling for life that the beasts possess touched off everything good and harmonious within me' (Franz Marc to Maria Marc, 2 April 1915).
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