The Animalization of Art: Franz Marc and Horses

I first learned today of a famous artist–German Expressionist Franz Marc–who had an affinity for painting horses.  Marc’s work on horses is collected in a book entitled Franz Marc:  Horses, by Andreas Schalhorn.

A description of Schalhorn’s book at suggests that Marc was attempting “an ‘animalization of art,’ in which the horse became both subject and expression of the hope for a better and more organic existence.”  A 2004 review of Marc’s work by art editor Gabi La Cava says Marc chose to depict horses and other animals in his work because he “believed so strongly in the possibilities held by the representation of animals.”

Marc died in 1916 at the age of 36 during the First World War at the Battle of Verdun, according to a biographical entry atWikipedia.  He was about to be released from service under a program releasing notable artists from combat, but was struck by a shell and died in battle.  In the years leading up to World War I, Marc’s work changed to reflect his growing sadness at the prospect of conflict, but before that he apparently believed in the transformative power of art depicting animals, and horses in particular.

What is it about the visage of horses that so grips the human imagination?  

If a trust fund were established for horses and paid into every time someone used an image of a horse in an advertisement, horses would be rich.


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