The “Savages” of Germany – Franz Marc

In this time of the great struggle for a new art we fight like disorganized ‘savages 1 against an old, established power. The battle seems to be unequal, but spiritual matters are never decided by numbers, only by the power of ideas.

The dreaded weapons of the ‘savages’ are their new ideas. New ideas kill better than steel and destroy what was thought to be indestructible.

Who are these ‘savages’ in Germany?

For the most part they are both well known and widely disparaged: the Briicke in Dresden, the Neue Sezession in Berlin, and the Neue Vereinigung in Munich.

* * *

It is impossible to explain the recent works of these ‘savages’ as a formal development and new interpretation of impressionism … The most beautiful prismatic colors and the celebrated cubism are now meaningless goals for these ‘savages.’

Their thinking has a different aim: To create out of their work symbols for their own time, symbols that belong on the altars of a future spiritual religion, symbols behind which the technical heritage cannot be seen.

Scorn and stupidity will be like roses in their path.

Not all the official ‘savages’ in or out of Germany dream of this kind of art and of these high aims.

All the worse for them. After easy successes they will perish from their own superficiality despite all their programs, cubist and otherwise.

But we believe – at least we hope we are justified in believing – that apart from all these ‘savage’ groups in the forefront there are many quiet powers in Germany struggling with the same high, distant goals and that ideas are silently maturing unknown to the heralds of the battle.

In the dark, without knowing them, we give them our hand.


Originally published in 1912

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