Thesis: Franz Marc Little Mountain Goats

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Franz Marc

The Little Mountain Goats

Franz Marc: Art analysis of the Little Mountain Goats

Franz Marc: Art analysis of the Little Mountain Goats

Early 20th century German artist Franz Marc is usually classified as a German Expressionist, although the vast majority of his works has a more literal and concrete quality than his contemporaries' art. "He found a way of giving the German Romantic painters - Runge, Friedrich, Kobell, Blechen, Rethel and Schwind (all of whom he warmly admired) a new and modern guise" (Lucie-Smith 1999, p.72). The Little Mountain Goats, (1914) as showcased in the St. Louis Art Museum is one of his more abstract oil paintings. More typical of the artist's early style is Cat on a Yellow Cushion (1912) and Dog Lying in the Snow (1910). The Little Mountain Goats (oil on canvas, 23 7/8 x 16 in.) reflects a new direction for the artist in his work, although Marc never espoused an urge to completely and radically break with the artistic past until the end of his career -- as a young man he continued to admire the Romantics and sought to reconfigure Romanticism anew. One of his final and most famous works is The Fate of the Animals (1913). This work unfurls in a series of splinters of colors that are simultaneously representational of animals yet wild and unnatural in both their coloring and their shapes.

Tragically, however, what the full flowering of Marc's mature career would resemble is unknown: Marc was conscripted as a soldier in World War I. Unlike some other artists, he did not actively seek out military service and his name was supposed to be withdrawn from the ranks of those men on active duty but on "March 1916 he was killed instantly when he was struck in the head by a shell splinter" while on patrol (Lucie-Smith 1999, p.72). Until his death, he was a member of what became one of the most influential movements in 20th century art.

Expressionism was not limited to the plastic arts. It stressed the need for artists to express themselves in their works in a highly personalized fashion and often involved the use of broad brushstrokes and strong colors. Marc became an Expressionist gradually -- his early career involved a great deal of failed experimentation. Marc, as a young man, was often mired in depression, despite the fact that he had a promising beginning for an artist: Marc's father was a professional landscape painter. But his childhood was also shaped by the worldview of his Calvinist mother (Lucie-Smith 1999, p.72). Marc struggled to find his creative voice and found some inspiration upon discovering the Impressionists in a trip to Paris. The Post-Impressionists Vincent Van Gough and particularly Paul Gauguin were to have the greatest impact upon his early efforts.

As evidenced not only in The Little Mountain Goats but indeed all of Marc's work, Marc was fascinated by animal's shapes and ways of moving. He "said that he wanted to recreate them 'from the inside', and made himself so complete a master of animal anatomy that he was able to give lessons in the subject" which allowed him to earn some additional income (Lucie-Smith 1999, p.1). The influence of this detailed study of animal anatomy is also reflected in Marc's choice of subjects, from goats to dogs to cats to horses and also works featuring animals with which he was not immediately familiar -- Marc did not live in a rural setting, and did not use animals to give a sense of place or pastoral peace. Rather, animal figures such as the goats were used as a vehicle of interior expression for the artist. The obscurity of the goats behind lines and colors, their indeterminacy create a kind of whirlwind of confusion, rather than a clearly pastoral scene, as might be expected by the work's title.

Marc's output as a whole was influenced by Paul Gauguin's study of jungle animals, such as tigers and panthers. Marc, although he never lived south of the equator, also painted creatures clearly inspired by Gauguin as in The Fate of the Animals (1913). Once again, art and technical knowledge of anatomy was his inspiration rather than something… [END OF PREVIEW]

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