Franz Marc (February 8, 1880 - March 4, 1916) was one of the principal painters and printmakers of the German Expressionist movement. He was a founding member of "Der Blaue Reiter" ("The Blue Rider"), an almanac the name of which later became synonymous with the circle of artists collaborating in it. Franz Marc was born in 1880, in the German town of Munich. His father, Wilhelm, was a professional landscape painter, and his mother Sophie was a strict Calvinist. In 1900, he began study at the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich, where his teachers would include Gabriel von Hackl and Wilhelm von Diez. In 1903 and 1907 he spent time in France, particularly in Paris, visiting the city's museums, and copying many of the images. In Paris, he frequented artistic circles which brought him into contact with a number of artists, including Sarah Bernhardt, and he discovered a strong affinity for the work of Vincent van Gogh.
In this period, Marc was involved in a number of stormy relationships, including a years-long affair with Annette von Eckardt, a married antiquary nine years his elder, and two marriages, first to Maria Franck, then to Marie Schnur. In 1906, he traveled with his brother, a Byzantinist by trade, to Saloniki, Mount Athos, and various other Greek locations.
Marc developed an important friendship with the artist August Macke in 1910. In 1911 he formed the Der Blaue Reiter artist circle with Macke, Wassily Kandinsky, and other artists who decided to split off from the Neue Kunstlervereinigung movement.
He showed several of his works in the first Der Blaue Reiter exhibition at the Thannhauser Galleries in Munich between December 1911 and January 1912. The exhibition was the apex of the German expressionist movement and also showed in Berlin, Cologne, Hagen, and Frankfurt. In 1912, Marc also met Robert Delaunay, whose use of color and futurist method was a major influence on Marc's work. Marc became influenced by futurism and cubism, and his art became stark and abstract in nature.
His name was on a list of notable artists to be withdrawn from combat in World War I. Before the orders were carried out, he was struck in the head and killed instantly by a shell splinter during the Battle of Verdun (1916).
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