Artibus et Historiae no. 12 (VI)

1985, ISSN 0391-9064

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JOHN F. MOFFITT - Fighting Forms: The Fate of the Animals. The Occultist Origins of Franz Marc's Ā«FarbentheorieĀ»

This study explores the latent occultist subject-matter of Franz Marc's progressively (1910-1914) non-representational (gegendstandlose) paintings. Marc's "Farbentheorie" increasingly made colors independent vehicles for resonating emotional meanings, read as precoded signs. Although this is an idea which can be generally traced to Symbolist art theory, the author pinpoints the sources for Marc's concepts in the shared interests of his close colleague, Vassily Kandinsky, who, in turn, resorted to certain Theosophical publications equating specific colors to specific emotional states, perceivable, however, only to the initiated clairvoyant. Such texts, showing how to read these "psychic auras", are then employed to decipher the latent meanings of Marc's last major canvases, The Fate of the Animals (1913) and Fighting Forms (1914). An appendix traces this occultist color-theory to the esoteric writings of Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky.

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