Kandinsky and friends August Macke and Franz Marc formed a group called The Blue Rider (Der Blaue Reiter). The group released an almanac, called The Blue Rider Almanac, and held two exhibits. They created paintings in the years immediately preceding World War I, showing a coming cataclysm which they said would alter individual and social reality.
Kandinsky used the symbols of the archetypes of death, rebirth and destruction, from various Russian folk tales as veiled imagery, to express what he felt was imminent – World War I.
Franz Marc often used the animal kingdom to express his visions.
The outbreak of World War I in 1914 ended their plans for new shows, and sent Kandinsky home to Russia, while August Macke and Franz Marc were both drafted into war.
Tragically, August Macke was killed in the battlefields of Champagne 1914.
August Macke: Farewell, 1914
Franz Marc’s name was on a list of notable artists to be withdrawn from combat in World War I. How unfortunate then, that before the orders were carried out, he was struck in the head and killed instantly by a shell splinter during the Battle of Verdun in 1916.
We should have had more paintings like this sweet, blue horse.
Franz Marc: Blue Horse, 1912