Franz Marc was part of the Expressionist movement in Germany, which was focused on helping society feel more connected to the world and rekindle feelings of authenticity and spirituality.
Expressionism often displayed the anxieties of society and the inner feelings and emotions of the artist. The artwork represented emotions rather than a depiction of an object or a part of the physical world. Expressionist paintings were also analyzed by how they made the viewer feel rather than the composition itself. It is no surprise, then, that these pieces depict violence and the coming of war as it coincides with history.
The Elephant, Horse and Cow is an example of a painting that demonstrates many of the characteristics associated with Expressionism and Marc's works. It depicts the three animals, which feature strongly in many of the artists works, particularly horses.
The abstract nature of the painting, as well as its sharpness and simplicity demonstrate how Marc was inspired by Cubism and Futurism. The colors used are also very characteristic of Marc as they create a contrast of hues from the vibrant primary colors, which are meant to symbolize different emotions.
With the combination of colors, this paintings brings forth a mix of emotions and makes the observer ponder was to why these three animals are depicted together. The horse and cow make sense as they are domestic animals often found in the same settings. The elephant could perhaps represent the world coming together in a time when there was tension in society.
Perhaps the elephant simply connects with the horse and cattle as they are all strong animals admired by Franz Marc. Either way, this painting combines the beauty of vibrant colors with the abstract representation of animals to create a visually appealing and interesting piece of art.