Franz Marc’s sketch books are one of the most valuable treasures in the Department of Prints and Drawings. Around 600 drawings fill the pages – portraits, nudes, studies of nature and animals, travel sketches and painting copies and plans in a wide variety of techniques, produced between 1904 and 1914. There are still 32 of Franz Marc’s sketch books in existence to day, 26 of which are owned by the GNM. The Nuremberg group therefore forms the most extensive sub-collection in Marc’s graphical oeuvre.
Restoration of the fragile books meant they had to be temporarily taken apart. As a result, it is now possible to present more than 300 of these drawings for the first time in an exhibition. They document Marc’s travels, provide an insight into his artistic development, and reveal the wide variety of motifs and the diverse references in the artist’s work. In specially highlighted sheets, we can trace the development of individual paintings from the first idea right through to completion. The exhibition offers the visitor a unique opportunity to look over the artist’s shoulder while he is working, so to speak.
The sketch books not only record Franz Marc’s way of working, indicate the chronology of works and chart his stylistic development from Jugendstil to Expressionism. They also provide clues on the creation of important works and reveal many unknown facets of his oeuvre in the decisive years in which the battle for modern art in Germany took place.