Animals Fates

Franz Marc, Paul Klee and Gustave Flaubert
13 March – 17 July 2022

The Franz Marc Museum has opened up a new perspective on Franz Marc’s work and its own collection that has previously been given little attention. To coincide with the 200th anniversary of Gustave Flaubert’s birth, the exhibition ‘Animal Fates. Franz Marc, Paul Klee and Gustave Flaubert’ shows that Franz Marc’s reception of the great French writer had a significant influence on his work around 1912/13. Marc’s reading of Flaubert’s ‘Legend of Saint Julian’ motivated him to illustrate the novella that led directly to Marc’s major painting Animal Fates (1913).

In one of Franz Marc’s sketchbooks that the painter used in 1912 and 1913, there are sketches, watercolours and pen-and-ink drawings that refer to Gustave Flaubert’s novella The Legend of Saint Julian the Hospitaller (1877). After Maria Marc separated the sheets in the sketchbook, some of these sketches entered the Franz Marc Museum, others the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen through the donation of Sofie and Emanuel Fohn. Marc wrote short sentences, excerpts from the French text, under his depictions so that individual scenes in Flaubert’s narrative are referred to directly in the drawings. It would appear that Marc intended illustrating Flaubert’s novella. What did he find so fascinating in this story?

The drawings, watercolours and paintings that reflect Marc’s reading of Flaubert are presented in the exhibition. In addition, it comprises works from the collection of the Franz Marc Museum that are to be seen in this context. These include not only Marc’s and Klee’s illustrated postcards but also Franz Marc’s abstract works that reflect the spiritual that he actually aspired to capture. These are the ‘new pictures’ that Franz Marc promised Paul Klee after the war that he did not live through.