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During the twentieth century, a group of painters who were highly interested in the possibilities of colors emerged. These painters, called Expressionists, presented an artistic style that lasted until the outbreak of World War I in 1914. Like Fauvism, Expressionism used color to create mood and express emotion.
The Blue Rider
In 1911 the German Expressionist group Der blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) emerged. The artists of this group were drawn toward non-figurative abstraction. One of the premier artists to emerge from this group was Franz Marc. Marc was a philosopher who often wrote and proselytized actively for modernism in Germany. After turning to art, his early work showed characteristics of Caspar David Friedrich, Jean-Simeon Chardin, and Jugendstil. While on a trip in Paris, he became aware of the works and styles of Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, and Paul Cezanne. Many of the artistic styles of these painters can be seen in his works, especially the earlier ones. His own personal style soon emerged however, as did his preference for painting animals over human subjects. This style included investing his own spiritual intensity into his paintings and undulating landscapes to bring the focus of attention to the paintings main attraction.
Franz Marc's Paintings
Unlike the other premier artist of the Blue Rider group, Vassily Kandinsky, Marc did not eliminate recognizable objects from his paintings. Blue Horses, painted in 1911, is one of his masterpieces. In creating this painting, Marc combined geometry with rich colors. The shapes of the horses are abstract in composition, although it is possible to tell where each horse begins and ends in the painting. In the painting the horses are painted a rich blue, with foreshortened forms and exaggerated curves.
The background of the picture features a brightly colored landscape with bold strokes of red, yellow and green. Many of these bold arched strokes represent mountains in the background, while two gray curves are representative of slender tree trunks. These tree trunks serve a purpose in that they present structural anchors and provide a sense of confinement, which draws added attention to the monumental forms of the blue horses.