This memoir provides valuable details about Franz Marc’s life and development as an artist, in a new and deeply personal account of the period during which Maria Marc, née Franck, was part of his life. Simply and sincerely narrated, My Life with Franz Marc is intriguing both as a far from straightforward love story and as an account of the intense artistic activity in and around Munich in the period leading up to the First World War.
The book covers the decade from Maria Franck’s first meeting with Franz Marc in 1905-6 to his death in 1916. Maria and Franz met when she was twenty-eight and he was twenty-five. She was financially dependent on an allowance from her parents, and his financial situation was precarious. Their friendship deepened and they went on holiday together and worked closely with one another in nearby studios. Maria had to juggle her own inclinations with her duty to her parents, who for a long time remained unaware of her relationship with Franz Marc. When she and Franz were apart they wrote to one another frequently, and extracts from the letters are quoted in the text. My Life with Franz Marc is based on accounts of Maria and Franz’s relationship and eventual marriage written by Maria Marc for her family, which have been shaped into a captivating story by the editor Brigitte Roßbeck.
Maria Marc’s memoir offers new insights into Franz Marc’s artistic life, describing his struggles to produce the art he had in mind – he frequently destroyed work he was dissatisfied with – and the impact of artists like Jawlensky, Kandinsky and Gabriele Münther who belonged to the Neue Künstlervereinigung München, where Marc was later accepted as a member. Other important artistic influences included August Macke and Paul Klee. Franz was called up to serve in the army on the outbreak of the First World War, and spent only short periods of leave with Maria from then on. He was killed in 1916.
My Life with Franz Marc is a story of devotion, put under enormous strain by Franz Marc’s impulsive, headstrong nature. The memoir sheds light on social mores and conditions in the early 20th century in Munich and Berlin and will appeal both to art historians and to those interested in an autobiographical love story.
All recommendations from Spring 2016