Saving the Blue Rider: Franz Marc’s Reception in Germany, 1911-1945.


Between 1933 and 1945, the National Socialist Party led a purge of modern art, resulting in the destruction of over 4,000 works. Expressionist Franz Marc (1880-1916) had a brief but remarkable career, and his ouevre survived this purge nearly intact, with over ninety-eight percent of his works remaining unscathed in museums and private collections today. Some of his pieces were subject to the Entartete Kunst exhibition in 1937, but most of these were removed due to public protest. Marc had died in World War I, and had been granted posthumous military honors; the public believed a war hero should not be degraded by this exhibition. As a result, art historians attribute the survival of Marc’s works to his military career, erasing his identity as an
artist. I propose an alternate theory: Marc was of particular importance to the German public, set apart by the underlying messages of his paintings and his unique style, both of which made him a quintessentially German artist. Using Marc’s reception and his own writings, I intend to show why his art survived the Nazis’ assault, when the rest of the Expressionists saw their work go up in flames.

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Art and Art History

310 Wilson Hall

Rochester, MI 48309




Winter 2020