Born in 1880 in Munich, Germany, Franz Marc is thought of as one of the major figures in the German Expressionist movement and was an original member of Der Blaue Reiter, a group of German Expressionists artists. He received his training at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich under Wilhelm von Diez and Gabriel von Hackl. However, he was largely influenced by Vincent van Gogh’s vigorous brushwork as seen in Cats on a Red Cloth (1909). He is known for using distinct colors, including red, blue, and yellow, as a symbol for different emotions in his later works, perhaps related to his suffering from depression.
He had an interest in Eastern religions and philosophies and tended to paint animals in an effort to convey his believe that civilization devastates human awareness of the spiritual force of nature. One of his most famous paintings, Blue Horses (1911), with its rounded and simplified outlines is the perfect example of his philosophy. Tyrol (1914) also looks at how fragile animals are in relation to the humans around them. Unfortunately, his life was cut short after he joined the German army in 1914. Two years later, he was killed while in combat.