Franz Marc was born in Munich (Germany) on February 8, 1880. His father was a professor at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts, but Franz Marc didn't have artistic plans as a young boy. He wanted to become a priest and attempted to study philosopy. Neither idea worked out and Marc decided to take painting classes at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts in 1900.
Marc undertook several travels to Paris where he was heavily influenced by the works of impressionist French painters. Franz Marc especially admired and enjoyed the art of Vincent van Gogh.
Together with Wassily Kandinsky, whom he had met at the Academy, Franz Marc founded 'Der Blaue Reiter'. Other members included Alexeji Jawlensky, Gabriele Münter later joined by Paul Klee and August Macke.
Marc showed his work in the first Blaue Reiter exhibition, held in Munich in 1911. The exhibition was the summit of the German expressionist movement and also showed in Berlin, Frankfurt, Köln and Hagen. In 1912, Marc met Robert Delaunay, whose use of color and Futurism was a great influence on Marc's own work. Marc became increasingly influenced by Futurism and Cubism, and his art became more powerful and abstract in nature.
Most of his mature work portrays animals in natural settings. It is characterized by bright primary color, stark simplicity, and an almost cubist portrayal of the animals.
World War I began, and Franz Marc volunteered for the German military service with the idea that the war would be a relief to the spoiled civilization. However, experiencing the death of his friend August Macke changed his mind on the good or evil of the war.
Franz Marc died near Verdun, France, on March 4, 1916, in full battle action.