Franz Marc, The Wolves (Balkan War) [Die Wolfe; Balkankrieg], 1913
Franz Marc often used animals in a natural environment as themes for his work. Prior to 1912, his works often featured animals such as horses and deer depicted in serene settings that were bright, light, and clear. The political conflicts and eventual breakout of World War I in Europe during this time led to a shift in Marc’s work. The Wolves (Balkan War) [Die Wolfe; Balkankrieg], painted in 1913, shows how the violence and terror of war changed the figures and setting depicted: here, wolves are represented as menacing figures that stalk through a landscape that is foreboding and bleak. The forms, both landscape and animals, are sharp and jagged, and the colors are dark except for the dying flower depicted in the lower right corner. This flower, the only light aspect of the work, is intentionally shown as fading away and symbolically represents the effects of the unceasing brutality and destruction of war.
This work is one of many from the Albright-Knox’s Collection featured in the exhibition Anselm Kiefer: Beyond Landscape that illustrates how artists have used landscape to explore a variety of themes. Here, Marc uses this work to explore how the political landscape and the natural world, both land and animals, can make a visual statement about a political situation or world event.
Franz Marc (German, 1880–1916). The Wolves (Balkan War) [Die Wolfe; Balkankrieg], 1913. Oil on canvas, 27 7/8 x 55 inches (70.8 x 139.7 cm). Charles Clifton, James G. Forsyth and George W. Goodyear Funds, 1951.