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Expressionist artist Franz Marc was born on 8 February 1880 in Munich to a landscape painter father and a strict Protestant mother. When he was 20, Marc enrolled himself at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich where he studied under established academic artists Gabriel von Hackl and Wilhelm von Diez.
During brief sojourns spent in Paris in 1903 and 1907, Marc visited museums and studied the techniques of paintings by the old masters, but also discovered an affinity for the work of Vincent van Gogh. While in Paris, Marc fell in with the city’s bohemian crowd, meeting numerous artistes, including actress Sarah Bernhardt. In 1910, the German artist formed a pivotal friendship with artist August Macke which led to the founding of the infamous Blue Rider group alongside Wassily Kandinsky and Gabriele Munter.
After showing at the first Blue Rider exhibition in the Thannhauser Galleries in Munich in 1911, Franz Marc met Robert Delaunay, whose use of colour became a major influence on Marc's paintings. Inspired by futurism and cubism, Marc's painting depicts nature in a stark, abstract form. In his lifetime, Marc made over 60 woodcut and lithographic prints and over 130 paintings of animals and nature characterised by bold colours. A profound sense of emotion is symbolized in the colours that Marc depicted – blue symbolizes masculinity and spirituality, whereas yellow represents feminine joy, while red represents the sound of violence. His most famous painting, Tirol or Tierschicksale (Animal Destinies) completed in 1914, served as a premonition of World War I.
After mobilization of the German army, the government identified notable artists to be exempted from combat to protect them. Marc was on this list, but before orders for reassignment could reach him, the unfortunate artist was struck in the head by a shell splinter while serving in the army, killing him instantly on 4 March 1916.