Painting of the Week / Thomas Abbs

Painting of the Week: 43

Painting of the Week: 43

Franz Marc (1880-1916), Der Turm der Blauen Pferde (The Tower of Blue Horses), 1913, oil on canvas, 200 x 130 cm, whereabouts unknown since the end of World War II.

It’s now the 43rd instalment of painting of the week, and until today there have been no repetitions. This should not be seen as an indication of us exhausting our artistic knowledge; instead, it’s testament to the power of Franz Marc’s use of colour, which, as we stated in week 19, beautifully captures the relationship between possibility and anxiety. Colour was of major significance to Marc, as he explained in a letter to August Macke in 1910, blue is the masculine colour of the spirit, yellow embodies feminine sensuality and red stands for raw matter.

You may have noticed at the top of the article, but this painting has been missing since the end of World War II. In total, thirteen of Marc’s paintings are either destroyed or missing; they were lost not only during the confusion of the war, but above all fell victim to the havoc the National Socialists wreaked upon the works of artists who fell out of favour with the regime. Indeed, Marc’s Der Turm der Blauen Pferde was on display at the Nazi’s exhibition Degenerate Art in 1937.

In 1912, Marc wrote in the art magazine, Pan: ‘one no longer clings to the picture of nature, but destroys it in order to show the powerful laws that preside behind the beautiful appearances.’ So in 1913, when Der Turm der Blauen Pferde was first exhibited at the Herbstalon exhibition (the largest and most important exhibition of new European art before the First World War), there’s something eerily prescient about Marc’s worldview. It is simply a shame this work is seemingly lost forever. TA

Franz Marc: The Complete WorksFor more on Franz Marc, check out our three volume catalogue raisonné dedicated to his life’s work, which is a culmination of many years’ work by leading experts in the field.


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