Franz Marc, German, Two Horses, 1912, Watercolor and gouache on paper; 44.5 x 38.1 cm (17 1/2 x 15 inches) (sheet), Museum Appropriation Fund 38.140
Franz Marc was a founder of the Munich-based group Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), which promoted abstraction as a path to incorporating spiritual content in art. Marc embraced animals as his subject in the belief that their closeness to nature made them purer than humans. RISD’s watercolor is an example of his work from late 1912, when he added kaleidoscopic interpenetrating planes to his portrayal of animals in an effort to make them appear at one with their environment. In Two Horses he used color symbolically: the earthy red horse appears at peace in nature while the blue, representing the spiritual, looks off seemingly in search of something more.