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Expressionism and Nature

For the German Expressionists, nature was an arena for healing and freedom.

Horses Resting (Ruhende Pferde)

Franz Marc
(German, 1880–1916)

1911. Woodcut, composition: 6 5/8 x 9 1/16" (16.8 x 23 cm); sheet: 11 1/4 x 15 3/4" (28.6 x 40 cm)

In this woodcut, four horses nestle together to form a harmonious composition. The shape of each animal fits into the other, like pieces in a puzzle. A member of Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), Franz Marc made many images of animals as symbols of spiritual renewal, rebirth, and inner peace. The cool green and blue hues express the artist’s vision of a spiritual connection to nature: “I am trying to heighten my feeling for the organic rhythm in all things, trying to establish a pantheistic contact with the tremor and flow of blood in nature, in animals, in the air—trying to make it all into a picture….”1

Richard Friedenthal, editor, Letters of the Great Artists, "Letter to the publisher Reinhard Piper, 1908," (London: Thames and Hudson, 1963), 207

A particular gradation of color; a shade or tint.

A term loosely applied to any printmaking technique involving a relief image cut into the surface of a wooden block. The wood is covered with ink and applied to a sheet of paper; only the uncut areas of the block will print, while the cut away areas do not receive ink and appear white on the printed image.

Having characteristics of a biological entity, or organism, or developing in the manner of a living thing.

Artist group active in Munich, Germany, from 1911 to 1914, and closely associated with the development of Expressionism. The group’s aim was to express their own inner desires in a variety of forms, rather than to strive for a unified style or theme.

The arrangement of the individual elements within a work of art so as to form a unified whole; also used to refer to a work of art, music, or literature, or its structure or organization.