The painter and printmaker Franz Marc is famous for his preoccupation with the animal subject, which he believed to be a symbol of creatural purity and innocence.
In his early cubist portraits of horses and cows, the German Expressionist emphasized the organic – his use of curved, parallel lines articulated the harmonious connection between animals and their natural habitat.
Fate of the Animals registers a stark transformation in Marc’s style as well as the artist’s state of mind. His crystalline abstraction, which unites Italian Futurism and Orphism, appears to express an aversion for his once beloved subject.
In a letter to his wife written in 1915, Marc explained that he began to see the monstrosity in animals he had previously associated with human beings alone.
Marc’s most powerful painting is an apocalyptic vision of animals trapped in a forest, subject to an unidentified force – threatening forms and sharp angles no longer correspond with what is natural, beautiful and innocent. Fate of the Animals, which was partially destroyed in a fire in 1916, proved to be a startling premonition of the terror and destruction to come; it was painted only one year before the outbreak of World War I, in which Marc fought and died.