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Executed in 1913 at the eve of the World War that would claim his life in military service, Small Composition I still features the bold bright palette so characteristic of Marc’s style.
Painted in oils on canvas the work is dominated and bound by the colours yellow and blue, one of Marc’s favourite colours and the one he associated in his own interpretation with masculinity.
Owing perhaps more to the forms of architecture than nature Small Composition I offers an insight into the versatility and flexibility of Marc’s talent. The majority of Marc’s work features themes from nature and the forms of animals are often the main subject of his works.
As Marc strived to achieve a spiritual contentment (at one stage of his life he studied for the priesthood) he employed the themes of animals and their natural environment to depict a utopian dream of a world freed from the chaos and domination of materialistic goals.
Marc’s friendship with the Futurist artist Robert Delaunay promoted his admiration for the Futurist and abstract styles whose influence we see in this work.
Marc's father was an amateur landscape painter and it is therefore not surprising that Marc loved and painted nature so much. Added to his father’s influence was a formal education in art at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts which he attended from the age of twenty.
This formal education, with input from many of the country’s most influential tutors, was added to when Marc visited Paris; there he fell in love with the work of the most prominent Impressionist painters; this experience was to colour and influence his work until his untimely death in 1916.
The German painter Franz Marc was born in Munich in 1880, and is perhaps best known for his expressionist paintings that feature animals.
Small Composition I is a departure for Marc from this usual style in that it does not feature animals or nature and is cubist in style rather than expressionist.