“Genesis II” by Franz Marc
“Tale of Creation,” also known as “Genesis II” by Franz Marc, is a colored print from woodcut, illustrating the creation story in the Book of Genesis. Pure and uncorrupted life emerges from a chaotic and dynamic swirl of interlocking forms.
Color for Marc came to embody emotional and spiritual states. Animals were frequent subjects in his paintings, as Marc considered them more spiritual and closer to nature than humans.
Marc, in this woodcut print, was influenced by his studies of early printed Bibles and their woodcut illustrations.
Marc was planned to include this print in an illustrated Bible he was organizing for the Blaue Reiter, the Munich-based artist group he cofounded.
However, by 1914 at the beginning of World War I, when Franz Marc created Schöpfungsgeschichte II (Genesis II), he had lost his faith that the natural world could provide an antidote to what he viewed as a sick society.
He wrote that his hope for rebirth had instead been transformed to:
“so much antipathy and so much ugliness that my depictions instinctively became ever more schematic and abstract.”
The outbreak of World War I, killed his illustrated Bible project, as it killed the artist.
Franz Marc died at a tragically young age in WWI combat and is best remembered as a central figure in German Expressionism and one of the founders of Der Blaue Reiter with his Russian friend Wassily Kandinsky.
Marc had studied theology, then philosophy, before turning to art as a career. He studied at the Munich Academy and is best remembered as a central figure in German Expressionism, and one of the founders of Der Blaue Reiter with his friend Wassily Kandinsky.
This woodcut was created in 1914 and posthumously printed in 1921 in yellow, black, and green. It was published in 1922 in Creation I from the portfolio “New European Graphics, Portfolio III: German Artists” (Schöpfungsgeschichte I from the portfolio Neue Europäische Graphik III: Deutsche Künstler).
Franz Marc (1880 – 1916) was a German painter and printmaker and 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 1911 and 1912. 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 FuturismFuturism 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 he was unfortunately struck in the head and killed instantly by a shell splinter during the Battle of Verdun in 1916 before orders for reassignment reach him.
Tale of Creation – Genesis II
- Title: Tale of Creation – Genesis II
- Deutsch: Schopfungsgeschichte II
- Artist: Franz Marc
- Medium: color woodcut print
- Date: 1914
- Dimensions: 9 1/4 in x 7 3/4 in (23.5 cm x 19.69 cm)
- Museum: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, National Gallery of Art, DC, Museum of Modern Art, NY, Guggenheim Museum
- Name: Franz Marc
- Born: 1880, Munich, Bavaria, German Empire
- Died: 1916 (aged 36), Braquis, France
- Nationality: German
- Notable works:
The work of Franz Marc: Expressing the being of animals
Franz Marc Quotes
“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.”‘
“Art has always been and is in its very essence, the boldest departure from nature. It is the bridge into the spirit world.”
“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. ”
“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.”
Our Animal Destinies: The Art of Franz Marc
Virtual Tour of Museums in San Francisco
- Asian Art Museum – San Francisco
- De Young Museum
- San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
- Legion of Honor Museum
- Walt Disney Family Museum
“Art will liberate itself from the needs and desires of men.”
– Franz Marc
Photo Credit: Franz Marc [Public domain]; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art / Public domain