Talking about paintings in class

We are currently analyzing paintings in class. This week, Gwendolyn brought Franz Marc’s “The Yellow Cow,” 1911, Guggenheim—NYC.

Franz Marc, Yellow Cow (Gelbe Kuh), 1911. Oil on canvas, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY, NY.(

Franz Marc is hard for me to peg. On the one hand his painting clearly evokes the anxiety of Europe at the beginning of a century of world war (the artist died on the battlefield in March, 1916, near Verdun-sur-Meuse, France). On the other hand, there is something Chagall-like in his delight in these animals, which is very appealing.

Opinion in class on Marc’s cow was decidedly mixed. While some responded positively to the color, others found the palette and angular cubism disturbing.

Marilyn brought J.E.H. MacDonald’s “The Tangled Garden,” 1915, National Gallery of Canada—Ottawa.

The Tangled Garden, 1915, Oil on Cardboard, National Gallery of Canada—Ottawa) (

“The Tangled Garden” shares some traits with impressionism, in its color handling, wet-on-wet painting, and rich impasto. (The delightful color shifts are not as apparent in this high-contrast reproduction.) However, it is a very carefully drawn and mapped painting, and MacDonald makes no attempt to mask his draftsmanship.

J.E.H. MacDonald is one of Canada’s Group of Seven painters. We share a lot of landscape features with the Great White North so I think it will be interesting over the next weeks to consider more work by the Group of Seven painters and their associates. (See McMichael Canadian Art Collection and National Gallery of Canada for more information on the Group of Seven.)