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"Franz Marc and the Blue Rider"
2001-04-08 until 2001-07-15
Walker Art Center
Minneapolis, MN, USA

During the early years of the 20th century, German painter Franz Marc devoted much of his artistic energy to creating images of horses and other animals. The allure of animals was not, for Marc, simply a formal or zoological interest, but stemmed from a deep fascination with the dynamic connection between animals, humans, and the natural world they shared. Longing to understand the spirit driving his own being, Marc looked to the horse in nature to perceive what he could not recognize in the human world. Through radical compositions and bold experiments with color, he strove to express the primary energy of the animals.

After Marc encountered the kindred spirits who would later form the core of the Blue Rider group--including Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Alexej Jawlensky--his style matured into a broader artistic philosophy. The Blue Rider was not a formal group with a manifesto and strict membership, but rather a changing network of artists who exhibited together and shared ideas. One of the most radical notions they proposed was the integration of all the arts across media boundaries, and they actively recruited not only painters and sculptors but also musicians, composers, writers, architects, and designers to their ranks. The artificial separation of form and idea, they argued, could not truthfully express the inner rhythm of the spirit. In their anthology of 1911, the Blue Rider Almanac, they included articles and essays on contemporary visual arts as well as music, theater, low arts, and ancient and non-Western cultures that embraced a wide range of conceptions about the place of art and the spiritual in the modern world.

The exhibition Franz Marc and the Blue Rider presents works by Marc and 10 of his Blue Rider colleagues that illuminate their common goals while making clear their distinct artistic personalities. Visitors will see several of Marcs masterpieces from this prolific period, including The Large Blue Horses (1911), a longtime favorite from the Walkers permanent collection; two related oils, The Small Blue Horses (1911) and The Small Yellow Horses (1912); and the stunning The Red Horses (1911). A selection of prints and gouaches by Marc--depicting animals both real and mythical--illuminates his increasingly abstract treatment of line, form, and color as he sought to develop a spiritually expressive art. Blue Rider cofounder Wassily Kandinsky, the Russian-born painter who was among the earliest advocates of pure abstraction, is represented by eightworks--notably his important Study for Improvisation V (1910), on loan from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and a key 1923 lithograph entitled Orange.

Franz Marc
The Large Blue Horses

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