German Expressionism

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Franz Marc (German, 1880–1916)

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About this work

Heather Hess, German Expressionist Digital Archive Project, German Expressionism: Works from the Collection. 2011.

In this woodcut, illustrating the creation story in the Book of Genesis, Franz Marc has dissolved all but the last vestiges of the recognizable world. From this clean slate, new life—pure and uncorrupted—emerges from a chaotic and dynamic swirl of interlocking forms. By spring 1914, when he made Schöpfungsgeschichte II (Genesis II), Marc had lost his earlier faith that the natural world could provide an antidote to what he viewed as a sick society. In a letter, he wrote that animals—until then his most prominent subjects, symbolizing joyous rebirth—aroused "so much antipathy and so much ugliness that my depictions instinctively (from an inner compulsion) became ever more schematic and abstract."

Marc was influenced by his close studies of early printed Bibles, and especially their woodcut illustrations. He planned to include this print in an illustrated Bible he was organizing for the Blaue Reiter, the Munich-based artist group he cofounded, although the outbreak of World War I scuttled the project.

Franz Marc (German, 1880–1916)

Genesis II (Schöpfungsgeschichte II) from The First Portfolio (Die erste Mappe)

(1914, posthumously printed and published 1921)
composition: 9 7/16 x 7 15/16" (23.9 x 20.2 cm); sheet: 19 11/16 x 13 3/4" (50 x 35 cm)
White, smooth, wove Japan.
(Gustav Kiepenheuer) Verlag der Dichtung, Potsdam
Fritz Voigt, Berlin
125 (including 25 on Japan paper [this ex. possibly outside the portfolio edition] and 100 on "Bütten" paper); an unknown number of impressions printed by the artist in black and in color, and 1 known trial proof, printed by the artist in black, with gouache additions; plus a posthumous edition of 30 issued by Otto Stangl, Munich, and printed by Gerhard Köhler, Baden-Baden, in 1984
Credit Line:
Katherine S. Dreier Bequest
Not in Schardt. Lankheit 843.4. Söhn 509.5
MoMA Number:
Primitivism, Religion

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