This summer the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart will be mounting the first Franz Marc exhibition ever to be devoted solely to the artist's main theme, the horse. Starting out from the museum's own unique pair of paintings - Small Blue Horses (1911) and Small Yellow Horses (1912) - the exhibition will bring together masterpieces from all phases of the artist's creative life. Works from private collections, which have never been shown before and, in some cases, were even presumed lost, now join Franz Marc's famous masterpiece Red Horses (1911) from Cambridge, Mass., last shown in Europe in the late thirties, in a presentation which impressively visualizes the broad spectrum of Franz Marc's symbolic world of images. With just one exception, all existing paintings on the theme of the horse have been made available for this exhibition. Not since Marc's memorial exhibition in 1916 has such a comprehensive presentation been possible. The exhibition, which will be shown in Stuttgart only, thus documents, through one single theme, the artistic wealth and creative development of one of Germany's most important artists of the early 20th century.
As one of the co-founders of the Expressionist movement "Der Blaue Reiter", Franz Marc (born in Munich in 1880, killed at Verdun in 1916) is today remembered primarily for his depictions of animals. Although he also painted deer, dogs, cows and cats, and a great many exotic animals, too, the prolificity of his paintings and interpretations of horses testify to his overriding interest in this theme. Whilst Marc, who was the son of an academy professor of painting, was naturally familiar with depictions of horses in the art of past epochs through his education, his many visits to the art galleries of Munich and to numerous exhibitions, he also learnt how to handle horses during his military service in 1899. During his regular visits to his "Blue Country" in and around Kochel am See, Marc himself began to observe and paint horses. Like Wassily Kandinsky and Gabriele Münter, Franz Marc departed from Munich for a more secluded life in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps. In 1910, he finally settled in Sindelsdorf, not far from Kochel, in order to be able to paint horses in their paddocks.
Comprising 122 depictions of horses, the exhibition visualizes the artist's development, in the course of only a few years, from naturalistic depiction via numerous intermediate stages to the abstract works of 1914. Having begun with studies from nature around 1905 and painting his first large pictures of horses in 1908, Franz Marc had, by 1909/10, developed his own personal style which was expressive in terms of both colour and style. The exhibition comprises an impressive number of masterpieces from the most creative phases of the artist's life, such as Horse in Landscape, 1910, from Essen, and The Red Horses, 1911, from Cambridge, Mass. Other key works include Blue Horses I and Blue Horses II from Munich and Bern respectively.
A further highlight which visualizes Franz Marc's utopian view of the world with particular clarity is the first ever joint appearance of the two Stuttgart paintings of 1911 and 1912 with the painting Big Blue Horses of 1911 from Minneapolis. Marc's development towards abstraction only a few years before his death is exemplified by such works as Stables of 1913 from New York and Playful Forms of 1914 from Essen. Clearly influenced by the painting of the French artist Robert Delaunay, these depictions of horses manifest an extreme reduction and dynamism of form. Rounding off the exhibition are several drawings from Marc's Field Sketchbook and Marc's last two works, his war-influenced depictions of horses driven to exhaustion, executed in autumn 1915.
Besides oil paintings, the exhibition includes drawings dating from the years between 1905 and 1915 as well as a selection of his famous works in tempera and gouache depicting a broad panorama of the imaginary world of the horse. Also exhibited is a series of witty, playful and, in some instances, "monumental" postcards which Marc wrote to his friends Macke, Kandinsky, Klee and, primarily, the Expressionist poet Else Lasker-Schüler in 1913.