Franz Marc on his way to the Blue Rider

Although sheets had already been removed and sold individually at that time, the Nuremberg sketchbooks contain more than 600 drawings and watercolours. The Germanisches Nationalmuseum thus possesses the most extensive part of Marc’s graphic oeuvre.

Together with its written legacy, it possesses a rich collection of materials on the life and work of the important and popular Munich Expressionist. “Many of Franz Marc’s drawings can be viewed by visitors to the first. Let’s see it at all”, General Director Prof. Dr. G. Ulrich Großmann emphasizes the importance of the exhibition. “This is a unique opportunity.”

A necessary restoration of the fragile booklets had made their temporary dissolution necessary and made this first exhibition of the largely unknown stock possible. The sketchbooks cover the period from 1904 to 1914 and thus the decisive years in the development of the work from Art Nouveau to Expressionism and Abstraction. The early ones begin with small rural scenes and landscapes in the style of the Munich Secession and the Dachau painters.

Between 1904 and 1907

Between 1904 and 1907 sketchbooks followed, which – in addition to numerous animal motifs – showed landscape sections, genre-like figure studies and portraits. Often on toned paper or with painterly wiped and white raised passages, they reflect the outer appearance of the world in the sense of Impressionism.

On a trip to Paris in 1907, Franz Marc became acquainted with the new world of post-Impressionism. Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin were instrumental in his search for his own path.

The sketchbooks VI to X of the years 1907 to 1909 bear witness to intensive studies of human anatomy and movement, but above all of animal anatomy and movement. The 1908 composition “Zwei stehende Pferde im Busch” (Two Standing Horses in the Bush) is an example of a new step in development characterized by a reduced form and the emphasis on the linear. Japanese woodcuts serve Marc as inspiration, as do classical drawings by Hans von Marées or works by sculptors such as Aristide Maillol.

The sketchbooks XI to XXII from 1908 to 1911 dominate movement studies and nudes. Dance plays an important role. To merge animals, people and landscape into one unit is Marc’s declared goal. Inspired by an article by Maurice Denis, he tried Pointillism to achieve a higher formal principle for the harmonious connection of living beings and landscape. The sketchbooks XXIV to XXIX from the years 1911 to 1912 show Franz Marc at the first peak of his career. On the outside, it was the discussions in the “Neue Künstlervereinigung München”, the new friends around Wassily Kandinsky and the appearance of the almanac “Der Blaue Reiter” that were decisive for his artistic breakthrough.

The sketchbooks illustrate the career

36 years dead. They not only document the chronology and stylistic development of the works, but also provide information about the way they worked and the origin of important major works.

In the overall view, they open up a view of many unknown facets of the artistic work in the decisive years of the struggle for modern art in Germany and encourage us to rethink the image of Franz Marc that has prevailed so far. With a view to the Nuremberg collection and the practice of the estate administrators, the selective approach with which the oeuvre of the prematurely deceased was formed for posterity becomes apparent.

The exhibition offers the visitor the unique experience of looking over the artist’s shoulder in his daily work, accompanying him on his excursions into nature and on journeys and sharing his enthusiasm for foreign cultures, Japanese, Indian and Egyptian art. At the same time, Marc’s interest remains in the down-to-earth Bavarian folk art of his immediate surroundings.

The aim of the exhibition is to depict the draughtsman Franz Marc in his many facets using the example of sketchbooks. Few loans complement each other selectively in order to show cross connections in the artist’s work.

Public and private collections have contributed thankfully with important works – such as the Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe with the painting “Rehe im Walde II” from 1914 and the Saarlandmuseum in Saarbrücken with the painting “Schafe” from 1912.

Drawings, graphic prints, a sculpture as well as photos and letters from the holdings of the German Art Archive of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum complete this new view of the work of Franz Marc.