Mandrill Franz Marc Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The Mandrill is one of the better known and more colorful paintings from Franz Marc's later period

As for its influence and inspiration, art historians believe that Marc had seen the latest works of Robert Delaunay on display in Berlin in 1913, and had been affected by that artist's evolution.

To be specific, in Delaunay's painting "Sun and Moon", circular forms interpenetrate with intensely contrasting colors. The distribution of 'cold' and 'hot' colors suggests the two celestial bodies in the painting's "The Mandrill".

What we can see in this painting is Franz Marc's immersion in what at the time was the exciting new world of abstraction. However, whereas other artists of the early twentieth century concentrated on purely abstract and non-representational forms (Frantisek Kupka, Robert Delaunay, Wassily Kandisky, etc.), Franz Marc embraced abstraction yet continued with his animal motifs.

In the incandescence of colors one at first sees a geometric structure that resembles a puzzle, with its agglomeration of prisms, cones, strongly colored semi-circles and other derivative mixed forms.

There are two diagonals that come into the painting and open up a certain depth of field; however, this is merely a suggestion of depth, as the chromatic values of the colors push forward resulting in a flattening effect.

Upon closer inspection the viewer eventually discovers the animal in the center of the composition. The powerful ape is composed of all the colors in the chromatic spectrum, and it seems as if it is willingly distinguishing itself from the other colors and forms that surround it.

One is able to clearly make out a head with a long snout and a mop of hair. Moving downward there are two arching arms that terminate in two hands gripping two objects as the mandrill makes its way through its environment.