More about The Unfortunate Land of Tyrol
Franz Marc always chose to depict animals over humans (animals 4lyfe) and The Unfortunate Land Of Tyrol is no different.
Except because art can never be linear, there’s a twist in store for you, dear reader. Some art historians believe this painting is a self-portrait of the artist. Say what? Stay with me now, in 1907 Marc chose to solely devote himself to the representation of animals in nature. Okay, you may wonder, that’s all fine and dandy, but these art historians sure have a funny idea of what is a self-portrait. Well, some art historians believe Marc depicted himself in the large, imposing, harsh mountains in the background of the painting acting as symbol for the destruction man had caused in the Balkan War and what was to come in World War I. Yep, art is cray, and the radical Franz Marc decided to insert himself in the mountains of this otherwise seemingly peaceful landscape.
Unlike horses in other works, such as The Large Blue Horses, which he typically painted blue (go figure), the horsies in The Unfortunate Land of Tyrol appear black, skinny and hungry, as if Marc is telling us through the animals that destruction in this seemingly peaceful, natural landscape is imminent. The painting is also the artist’s response to the First Balkan War of 1912, in which the Balkan States rose up against the Ottoman Empire and abolished their territorial holdings in Europe. Marc seemed to have psychic intuition as he created The Unfortunate Land of Tyrol to directly inform the viewer of Europe’s current political situation, aka, Winter is Coming.
Our sensitive artist believed war was the only way to properly “cleanse Europe” and to reinstate the natural balance of the world. He was maybe a bit too enthusiastic about the prospect of war on the horizon, hoping that this war would eliminate the end of the tyranny of materialism in Europe and bring back a natural balance. Little did he know, the war would cause his own demise as he died at the Battle of Verdun in 1916. So whether you believe Marc is hanging out in the mountains above the landscape or not, it’s undeniable that mass destruction in this scene is imminent although void of human destruction.
- Marc, Franz. The Unfortunate Land of Tyol. 1913. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.
- The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica, ed. "Balkan Wars." Encyclopedia Britannica.June 22, 2018. Accessed July 23, 2018. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Balkan-Wars.
- West, Shearer. "The Spiritual in Art." In The Visual Arts In Germany 1890-1937 Utopia and Despair, 76-77. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1988.
- The Art Story Contributors. "Franz Marc's Life and Legacy." The Art Story. 2018. Accessed July 23, 2018. https://www.theartstory.org/artist-marc-franz-life-and-legacy.htm.
- Griffin, Susan. “Sacred Images.” In Pornography and Silence: Culture’s Revenge Against Nature. New York, NY: Open Road Media, 2015.
- Willette, Jeanne. "German Artists at War, Part Two." Art History Unstuffed. February 10, 2017. Accessed July 23, 2018. https://arthistoryunstuffed.com/german-artists-at-war-part-two/.