Dog Lying in the Snow
Oil on canvas
Inv. No. 2085 (Property of the Städelscher Museums-Verein e.V.)
63 × 105 cm
Marc – who died in action outside of Verdun during the First World War– had been a co-founder of the Munich “Blaue Reiter” artists’ association. He had always been more interested in animals than human beings as motifs for his paintings. For him, spirituality was expressed in art in the animal as a symbol of the original unity of nature and living creatures. Marc aimed not only to realize his subjects’ essential form by aesthetic means, however, but also their appearance. As we know from a letter Marc wrote to August Macke, this painting of his Siberian shepherd dog Russi was based on complicated deliberations on the aspect of colour. The challenge presented by the depiction of snow – which had already captivated Monet and Pissarro – provided Marc with an opportunity to concentrate on complementary chromatic effects and the prismatic purity of colour. Initially fascinated by Impressionist art, Marc broadened his artistic horizon after a number of encounters with the French avant-garde, particularly with works by van Gogh and Gauguin. From now on, simplified forms, two-dimensionality and symbolic colouration would be his dominant means of expression.