Tiger by Franz Marc
Tiger by Franz Marc is one of the artist’s several depictions of animals in the Expressionist style. Tiger demonstrates a sense of restlessness, of tension, imminence and anticipation. The landscape is composed entirely of cubic forms rendered in bright luminous tones. The tiger is disturbed from its rest; its head has risen, its yellow eyes fixed upon its next prey or the impending danger. The tiger’s strength is represented by intersecting shards of colour and acute angles which are contained within the bold, black outline.
The central motif of this painting is the tiger, surrounded by a colourful, jungle landscape. The tiger’s recognisable dark stripes characterise the picture on yellowish fur and the dynamic jungle background. Tiger forms part of Marc’s formative phase, during which he became fascinated by futurism and cubism, in which he created art that was increasingly stark and abstract. This work is filled with tension, with a sense of apprehension, with a presentiment of quick and sudden death.
Marc’s Tiger shows the influence of Picasso’s cubism and Paul Cezanne. Cubism is used as a means of heightening realism and sentiment, together with Marc’s interest in bold, primary colours and their potential to convey emotion are evident in this artwork.
Expressionism is a modernist movement, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. It presents the world from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for the emotional effect to evoke moods or ideas. Expressionist artists sought to express the meaning of emotional experience rather than physical reality. Expressionism developed as a new style before the First World War. It remained popular during the Weimar Republic, particularly in Berlin.
Franz Marc (1880 – 1916) was a German painter and printmaker, one of the key figures of German Expressionism. He was a founding member of Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), a journal whose name later became synonymous with the circle of artists collaborating in it.
Marc showed several of his works in the first Der Blaue Reiter exhibition in Munich between in 1911 and1912. As it was the apex of the German expressionist movement, the exhibit also showed in Berlin, Cologne, Hagen, and Frankfurt. By 1912, Marc became fascinated by futurism and cubism, and he created art that increasingly was stark and abstract. He painted The Tiger and Red Deer in 1912 and The Tower of Blue Horses, Foxes, and Fate of the Animals in 1913, in the years just before the Great War.
With the outbreak of World War I, Marc was drafted into the German Army as a cavalryman. By 1916, he had gravitated to military camouflage. His technique for hiding artillery from aerial observation was to paint canvas covers in a broadly pointillist style. He created a series of nine such tarpaulin covers in styles varying “from Manet to Kandinsky”, suspecting that the latter could be the most effective against aircraft flying above 2000 meters.
The German government identified notable artists to be withdrawn from combat for their safety. Marc was on the list but was struck in the head and killed instantly by a shell splinter during the Battle of Verdun in 1916 before orders for reassignment reach him.
- From the depiction of animals to painting military camouflage. Is our world as uncertain as it is for this tigers?
- Military camouflage in styles varying “from Manet to Kandinsky”, which were most effective?
- Title: Tiger
- Artist: Franz Marc
- Medium: Oil on canvas
- Date: 1912
- Dimensions: 109 × 99 cm (42.9 × 38.9 ″)
- Museum: Lenbachhaus
- Name: Franz Marc
- Born: 1880, Munich, Bavaria, German Empire
- Died: 1916 (aged 36), Braquis, France
- Nationality: German
- Notable works:
Explore Germany’s Museums
- The Pergamon Museum
- Neues Museum
- Altes Museum
- Alte Nationalgalerie – National Gallery (Berlin)
- Bode Museum
- Gemäldegalerie, Berlin
- Spy Museum Berlin
- Jewish Museum, Berlin
- Deutsches Historisches Museum – German Historical Museum
- DDR Museum
Franz Marc Quotes
“Who can paint the existence of a dog as Picasso paints the existence of a cubic shape?”
“Whenever we have seen a crevice in the crust of convention, we have called attention to it, because we have hoped for a force underneath, which will someday come to light.”
“What appears spectral today will be natural tomorrow.”
“I never, for instance, have the urge to paint animals ‘the way I see them,’ but rather the way they are… The way they look at the world and feel their being.”‘
“Today we are searching for things in nature that are hidden behind the veil of appearance… We look for and paint this inner, spiritual side of nature.”
“Art has always been and is in its very essence the boldest departure from nature. It is the bridge into the spirit world.”
“Blue is the male principle, stern and spiritual. Yellow the female principle, gentle, cheerful and sensual. Red is matter, brutal and heavy and always the colour which must be fought and conquered by the other two.”
“Art will liberate itself from the needs and desires of men.”
“Like everything genuine, its inner life guarantees its truth. All works of art created by truthful minds without regard for the work’s conventional exterior remain genuine for all times..”
“Art is nothing but the expression of our dream; the more we surrender to it the closer we get to the inner truth of things, our dream-life, the true life that scorns questions and does not see them.”
“Today art is moving in the direction of which our fathers would never even have dreamed. We stand before the new pictures as in a dream, and we hear the apocalyptic horsemen in the air. ”
“I am trying to intensify my feeling for the organic rhythm in all things, trying to establish a pantheistic contact with the tremor and flow of blood in nature, in animals, in the air – trying to make it all into a picture, with new movements and with colours that reduce our old easel paintings to absurdity.”
“The great artists do not seek their forms in the midst of the past but take the deepest soundings they can of the genuine, most profound of their age.”
“Serious art has been the work of individual artists whose art has had nothing to do with ‘style’ because they were not in the least connected with the style or the needs of the masses. Their works arose rather in defiance of their times.”
“Is there a more mysterious idea than to imagine how nature is reflected in the eyes of animals?”
– Franz Marc
Photo Credit: Lenbachhaus [Public domain]