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Artist Bios


Franz Marc

Franz Marc (1880-1916), German painter, who was one of the leading members of the expressionist Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) group. He was born in Munich. Marc is best known for his paintings of animals—particularly horses and deer—in which he attempted to express his mystical veneration of nature. In works such as Blue Horses (1911, Walker Art Gallery, Minneapolis, Minnesota), he used stylized lines and curves and brilliant unrealistic color to create and heighten the sense of nature idealized. After 1913, in response to cubism and futurism, he turned to abstraction, creating moods of clashing, discordant uncertainty. He was killed in action during World War I.

Henri Rousseau

Henri Rousseau, called Le Douanier (1844-1910), self-taught French artist, whose bold colors, flat designs, and imaginative subject matter were praised and imitated by modern European painters. Born in Laval, Rousseau enlisted in the army at the age of 18 and claimed to have served briefly in Mexico. After his discharge, he obtained a position with the Paris toll, which explains his sobriquet Le Douanier (The Customs Official). On his retirement in 1885 he devoted himself to painting. Although he lacked formal training, Rousseau soon showed great skill in composition and color. Beginning in 1886 he exhibited his work at the Salon des Indépendants, winning the admiration of such contemporaries as Paul Gauguin, Georges Seurat, and Pablo Picasso. After painting mainly portraits and Parisian scenes, he turned during the 1890s to highly original depictions of fantasy. These mature pictures typically depict tropical scenes with human figures at rest or play and with beasts mysteriously charmed to an alert stillness. The Dream (1910) shows a nude reclining on a couch in a vividly colored jungle full of enormous plants, with glaring lions and other animals nearby. In The Sleeping Gypsy (1897) a woman sleeps peacefully in the desert while a lion, its tail in the air, examines her curiously. These paintings, along with his Jungle with a Lion (1904-1906), are in the Museum of Modern Art, New York City. Rousseau's work, admired for its color, composition, and directness, inspired a revival of naive art.


Gustav Klimt

Gustav Klimt (1862-1918), Viennese painter, who was the founder of the Vienna Secession, the Austrian art nouveau movement. His early work, consisting principally of large murals for theaters, was painted in an unremarkable naturalistic style. After 1898, Klimt's work moved toward greater innovation and imagination, taking on a more decorative, symbolic aspect. He continued to paint murals, but the harsh public criticism of the three murals Philosophy, Medicine, and Jurisprudence (1900-1902, Vienna University; destroyed 1945) led him to concentrate on panel painting. Klimt's best-known works are his later portraits, such as Frau Fritsa Reidler (1906, Österreichische Galerie, Vienna), with their flat, unshadowed surfaces, translucent, mosaic colors and forms, and sinuous, curling background lines and patterns. Among his most admired works is the series of mosaic murals (1905-1909) in the Palais Stoclet, an opulent private mansion in Brussels designed by the architect Josef Hoffmann, who was also a member of the Vienna Secession movement.


The Kiss (1907–1908, Österreichische Galerie, Vienna, Austria), Austrian artist Gustav Klimt portrays a brief moment of passion between two people.