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At a glance, Franz Marc's Cat on a Yellow Pillow appears to be an innocuous portrait of a serene feline at rest. Like all of Marc's works, this piece tells a much greater story
In 1903, at the age of 23, Marc left his native Germany for Paris. It was there that he quickly found himself inspired by fellow artists Picasso, Van Gogh, and Gauguin. In time, he also involved himself with several famous actors and other types of various local artists, thus expanding his horizons and experience even farther.
In 1912, Franz Marc became acquainted with Robert Delaunay, who used colour and design in a futuristic manner, eventually leading to the futurist movement. Marc was enamoured with this futuristic style, which would heavily influence his work for the rest of his life.
Marc was obsessed with animals. Sweet and simple images of dogs and kittens. Geometric animals such as horses and deer. Fierce and exotic animals, like tigers. His subjects are somewhat commonplace, and the portrayals in his work are often lacking extreme detail, but manage to evoke strong emotion.
While the striking images of animals in their natural settings provokes a certain amount of sentiment, it's also Franz Marc's use of colours that conjures up feeling when one examines his work closely. His use of red was intended to represent life. Yellow, a representation of feminine joy.
Most of his paintings of cats are similar to Cat on a Yellow Pillow, showing a soft feline in a natural state of grooming itself or sleeping.
So many Franz Marc works feel so gentle and innocent, yet during the early 1930s, in his native Germany, Marc was labelled a degenerate artist and many paintings like this one were removed from exhibits around the country. After the end of WWII, his works were once again on display, leading to Franz Marc becoming one of the most influential German artists.