Franz Marc ( 8th February 1880 - March 4th 1916) was a German painter and printmaker, whose artworks were an example of the German Expressionism and The Blue Rider (Der Blaue Reiter) artistic movements.
By 1914, Europe was gripped with World War I and Marc's art had moved towards abstract paintings dedicated to form and away from representational paintings. Franz Marc wrote, "from one year to the next, trees, flowers, the earth, everything showed me more and more ugly and repulsive sides, and it was not until now that I became aware of the hideousness of nature and its impurity."
Franz Marc’s artwork tells the creation story, Genesis 2: 4b-25, which is the first of two complementary narrative histories in Genesis 1: 2, 2, 4a, in the Christian bible.
Creation comes from Chaos: In the beginning, God created heaven and earth. However, the empty and desolate earth was covered in darkness. God said, “Let there be light”.
The metaphorical imagery in the artwork communicates the ideas that creation comes from chaos and the abstract nature of the composition mirrors how creation takes place in an almost abstract way through the Word of God, which symbolizes the work of God.
The use of light and dark also communicates the idea that God thought that light was good and called light day; night was what He called the darkness.
The use of yellow implies a feminine, gentle, sensual and happy principle, which is being suffocated and drowned by a much darker, more powerful force, which is represented by the shades of grey and black colours in the artwork. Black is associated with death, pain and suffering – the ugly and repulsive nature of a world at war may explain Franz Marc’s emotive expression in this painting.