Franz Marc b. 1880, Munich; d. 1916, Braquis, near Verdun-sur-Meuse, France
Oil on canvas
29 x 62 inches (73.6 x 157.5 cm)
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection
Like Vasily Kandinsky and other artists associated with Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), Franz Marc searched for ways to reflect inner spiritual and emotional states through art. Marc’s approach was oriented toward nature, founded on the pantheistic belief that animals possessed a certain godliness that men had long since lost. He completed Stables, the last major work based on his favorite subject, the horse, by the end of 1913. During the course of the year, Marc had become increasingly interested in abstract pictorial modes to express universal aspects of existence. Rather than portraying the natural world from the point of view of the individual animal, Marc now saw his subjects as part of a larger unified field and treated them in terms of the overall structure of the composition. In Stables, the images of horse and stables are almost indistinguishable. The artist arranged a group of five red, blue, and white horses within a framework of parallel and crossing diagonals. Massed on the picture plane, the horses are transformed into flat colored shapes. The curvilinear patterns of the animals’ tails and the shifting planes of vivid, light-filled colors suggest the influence of the Futurists and Robert Delaunay, whom Marc had met during a trip to Paris in 1912.