Franz Marc. The Feeling Deer

14 July – 06 October 2024

The exhibition at the Franz Marc Museum focuses on the deer and reflects the profound change in the relationship between humans and animals. With works by Franz Marc, Renée Sintenis and Joseph Beuys.

“I can paint a picture: ‘The Deer’. […] However, I may also want to paint a picture: ‘The Feeling Deer’.”
Franz Marc (1911/1912)

Franz Marc is best known for his depictions of horses; the deer, however, is an equally frequent motif in his work. Marc, who himself kept two tame deer as pets, repeatedly picked up on this motif in the course of his artistic career. He used the multifaceted meanings associated with the nature of the deer which has always been regarded as a gentle and peaceful creature that represents the timidness and vulnerability of nature. By removing animals from their traditional allegorical or narrative contexts and placing them, in their autonomous existence, at the centre of his compositions, Marc opened up a new way of looking at animals that acknowledges and appreciates them as autonomous, sentient beings.

Marc’s works reflect the profound change in the relationship between animals and humans at the beginning of the 19th century that was influenced by urbanisation, industrialisation and globalisation, and that caused a feeling of alienation in many people. Topics such as animal ethics and animal welfare became increasingly important at that time. Insight into the extinction of species, the loss of habitat and the barbarism of animal experiments, combined with species-appropriate animal husbandry, slaughtering and consumption, were given greater attention. The rights of animals as independent, sentient creatures increasingly became subjects of discussions as well.
These debates are still relevant today, more than a hundred years after Franz Marc’s death, and provide an opportunity to take a fresh look at his work from this perspective. In the exhibition, we are not only focusing on Franz Marc, but also on the works of contemporaries such as the Berlin sculptor Renée Sintenis and artists from the second half of the 20th century such as Joseph Beuys and Sigmar Polke.

Franz Marc, Rote Rehe II (Red Deer), 1912, (Detail)
Franz Marc Museum, Loan from Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich