Painting of the Week / Thomas Abbs

Painting of the Week: 19

Horse in a Landscape

Franz Marc (1880 – 1916), Pferd in Landschaft (Horse in a Landscape), 1910, oil on canvas, 85 x 112 cm, Museum Folkwang Essen.

Two things I think of when I think of Easter are chocolate and flagellation. The latter almost led to Piero della Francesca’s Flagellation of Christ (1445-1450) becoming our Easter themed painting of the week. However, despite being called ‘the greatest small painting in the world’ by art critic Kenneth Clark, I wanted to represent the third thing that comes to mind: spring. Spring, a time of rebirth, renewal, re-growth, cute animals and most importantly, better weather. But with possibility comes anxiety, and it is this emotional muddle that Franz Marc captures.

One of the central artists of the Blue Rider group, the high point of German Expressionism, Franz Marc was perhaps the greatest animal painter of the twentieth century. Marc’s work, though simple, drips with emotion as a result of his bold use of colour. The use of yellow, green and red in this painting, full of promise and danger, expands into an infinite landscape that seems to burst beyond the confines of the canvas; it creates a knot in my tummy reminiscent of the morning before my GCSE French oral. The velocity of this feeling can become overwhelming, and makes you think twice before tucking into that third crème egg.

Happy Easter everyone, we’ll be back on Tuesday. TA

For more Franz Marc, our fine art imprint Philip Wilson recently completed the three-volume catalogue raisonne of Franz Marc’s work. This particular painting can be found in Volume I: Oil Paintings.

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