|Franz Marc' "Reh"|
One of the very finest of Marc's tempera paintings, Reh is an holistic semi-abstract fusion of dynamic intersecting lines of force, figurative form and rich, radiant colour, executed in 1912, at the very height of the artist's self-defined mission to devise an 'animalised' art. The aim of such 'animalisation', as Marc described it, was to render a vision of the world as it might be seen from within - through the feeling and the senses of the living sentient beings (animals and man), who inhabited it. Reh is an extraordinarily elegant, simple and stunningly composed painting that powerfully asserts itself as an icon of this visionary aim.
One of a series of groundbreaking and revolutionary paintings of lone deer enveloped in their natural environment that Marc produced between 1912 and 1913, Reh is a work that belongs amongst the very greatest of Marc's artistic achievements. For Marc, the deer, more than any other animal, symbolized the innocence, fragility and preciousness of animal life as well as what he believed to be its pervasive suffering. Perhaps inspired by a story by one of his favourite authors, Gustave Flaubert's La légende de Saint-Julien,(2)
'I am seeking a feeling for the organic rhythm in all things, a pantheistic empathy into the shaking and flowing of the blood in nature, in trees, in animals, in the air', Marc had written in 1910. 'I see no happier means to the 'animalisation of art', as I would like to call it, than the animal picture. Therefore I treat it accordingly' (Franz Marc, 'Letter to Reinhard Piper', 20 April, 1910, in G. Meissner, ed. , Franz Marc, Briefe, Schriften und Aufzeichenungen, Leipzig, 1980, p. 30).(3)
With the aim of creating 'symbols for their own time, symbols that will take their place on the altars of a future spiritual religion', it was Marc's intention to reveal, through his work, the 'magic, sympathetic bond between the earth and the organic forms it has engendered, earth and object... blended together' (Franz Marc, Almanac Der Blaue Reiter, Munich, 1912, p. 6 and F. Marc, 'Geistige Güter', in Der Blaue Reiter, 1965, p. 21) (4)
signed 'F.Marc' (lower right)
gouache, watercolour and pencil on paper
18 x 15½ in. (45.7 x 39.2 cm.)
Executed in 1912
Galerie Ferdinand Möller, Berlin, by whom probably acquired from the above after 26 July 1933.
Eberhard Thost, Hamburg, by whom acquired from the above by 1936.
Siegfried Adler, Montagnola, by 1974.
Galerie Margret Heuser, Dusseldorf, by 1997.
Private collection, Rheinland.
K. Lankheit, Franz Marc, Katalog der Werke, Cologne, 1970, no. 445, p. 144 (illustrated, dated '1912/14').
A. Hoberg & I. Jansen, Franz Marc, The Complete Works, Volume 2, Works on Paper, Postcards, Decorative Arts and Sculpture, London, 2004, no. 221, p. 198 (illustrated p. 199).
Hamburg, Kunstverein, Franz Marc, Gemälde, Gouachen, Zeichnungen, Skulpturen, November 1963 - January 1964, no. 74.
Düsseldorf, Galerie Margret Heuser, Frühjahr 1997, March - April 1997, no. 4.
Berlin, Brücke-Museum, Der Blaue Reiter und seine Künstler, October 1998 - January 1999, no. 62, p. 382 (illustrated p. 274); this exhibition later travelled to Tübingen, Kunsthalle, January - March 1999.
Munich, Städtische Galerie in Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau, Franz Marc, Die Retrospektive, September 2005 - January 2006, no. 189, p. 325 (illustrated p. 251, dated '1912-13').