Over one hundred years ago, German artist, Franz Marc, created a painting known as the Big Blue Horses. In 1942, as the US was entering the Second World War, the painting, considered degenerate art by the Nazis, was bought by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in the United States. It has been there ever since.
Franz Marc was one of a number of artists, who in 1911, founded a group known as the Blaue Reiter (Blue Rider). Other founders included the Russian emigrants, Wassily Kandinsky, Alexej von Jawlensky, Marianne von Werefkin, and native German artists, such as August Macke and Gabriele Münter. The Swiss artist Paul Klee was also involved.
The group decided that the Neue Künstlervereinigung München, a group Kandinsky had founded in 1909, had lost its innovative edge and it was time to create something new.
Blue was an important colour for Kandinsky. He believed it was the colour of spirituality. According to the artist, the darker it is, the more it awakes a yearning for the eternal. While all different, the artists in the group shared a passion for expressing spirituality in their work, and shared an intuitive approach to painting.
In 1916, Franz Marc was killed in combat in the Great War, along with August Macke who met a similar end in 1914. At the same time, Wassily Kandinsky, Marianne von Werefkin and Alexej von Jawlensky were forced from Germany because of their Russian citizenship, bringing the movement to an end.
Over time the Blaue Reiter paintings scattered around the world, ending up in various museums and private collections. Now for the first time they have been reunited.
Franz Marc’s painting, the Big Blue Horses, made the long journey from America to Switzerland, and now hangs on a gallery wall at the Foundation Beyeler in Basel, where it will stay for several months, united, after all these years, with many other members of the Blaue Reiter family.
The exhibition opened at the weekend and runs until 22 January 2017. The Fondation Beyeler is located at Baselstrasse 101, 4125 Basel.
Full details of the exhibition can be found on their website (in English). Tickets cost CHF 25 for adults, CHF 6 for children (children 10 and under are free), and family passes (2 adults and up to 4 children) cost CHF 50.
The 1 minute video below offers an insight into the gallery.