Visual Verbal Essay on Wilfred Owen and Franz Marc

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This essay explores two artists, Franz Marc, Brett Whitely and two of their artworks depicting animal scenes. Franz Marc’s ‘Tiger’, ‘Blue Horse 1’ and Brett Whitley’s Giraffe and Hyena. These four artworks will be compared and contrasted using the structural and the subjective frame. In the structural frame the viewer can take into account the visual language of line, shape, color, texture, tone, focal point, visual devices such as lighting composition and 3D space. This is all evident in Marcs art making practice. Artworks which use symbolic object within the bonds of a visual language, material forms and motifs, representing ideas and communicating meaning. Symbols and sings, there is often a meaning is coded within a formal structure of visual language. Franz Marc uses colours to send a message to the viewer by having each colour represent a special meaning.

The subjective frame comprises mainly feelings and emotions expressed, and of audience response or interpretation. Brett Whitely captures this raw emotion by The ‘Blue Horse’ and the ‘Tiger’ are composed in Franz Marcs distinctive style. During his painting career Franz Marc created these scenes of animals in their natural setting and habitat using a futuristic, cubist approach. The stark works, which were extremely advanced for his time, included abstract nature, and bold colours portraying meaning and sharp angles.

Marc has taken a cubist approach in both these compositions, focusing on the animal and its raw emotion and focuses on the fragmentation of colour, as opposed to painting in the surrounding external factors. Franz doesn’t use any texture in his artworks, just blocks of colour. He has given meaning to the colours that are used in his pieces; blue was used to depict masculinity and a spiritual style; while yellow and lighter colors depicted femininity and joy.

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Red tones were often used to depict violence or some serious under toning in his work. The effect of this represents communication and convoys a message out to the viewer. For the surface application he has chosen to use oil paints to convey the vibrancy and intensity of the colouprs. This further emphasizes his artistic intentions and captures the intensity.

Out of the ‘Blue’ Horse 1’ and the ‘Tiger’, the ‘Tiger’ demonstrates a new and disturbing sense of restlessness, of tension, of imminence and anticipation. In the midst of a landscape composed almost entirely of cubic forms rendered in bright luminous tones of red, green, violet and orange, the animal of the title, a beast of tremendous power and size, is seen perched upon a rock. This is not by any means, the kind of dreamy, transcendent image that we see in ‘Blue Horse 1’ rather then it is the picture of a killer. 

Disturbed from its sleep, its head risen, its stark yellow eyes fixed upon its intended victim, the ‘Tiger’ composed solely in tones of yellow and black, is ready to discharge the kinetic force of its massive and muscular bulk. The painting of the animal is made to seem even more powerful by the block-like construction of the form that determine its body. The entire work is filled with tension, with a sense of apprehension, with a presentiment of quick and sudden death. In this painting the feeling of security, of harmony and comfort that Marc had projected in his previous works is entirely absent. Whereas the ‘Blue Horse’ is standing rigid almost on an angle, it portrays a blue foal full of youthful drive dive and innocence presenting itself to the viewer with its head tilted to one side as if contemplating weather to look at the viewer. 

The positive space shines white in broken forms whilst the negative areas of the animal comes out at navy blues darkening in the hooves and mane. The whole composition is made up of a cheerful sphere controlled by complimentary colors, of red and green, moving through to crimson and yellow to violet, then to blue and orange in the upper zone. He occupies the entire section of the art work with color, shape and form where Brett whitely is very minimalistic and only uses monochromatic tones. The fact that the viewer can view the artwork section by section because there is something to be explored in every corner is a very different approach as to what you see when you look at Whitley’s compositions. Franz wanted to capture the animals free in their natural habitat whilst Brett has shown them in captivity deprived from a normal life.

Both of these compositions reflect on Brett Whitley’s distinctive simplistic style. There is no variation of lighting. The light is equal in both the positive and the negative spaces. The light is bright and creates a white background for the ‘Giraffe’ and the ‘Hyena’ in comparison to Franz Marc who uses color to convey a message to the viewer. Having a white background allows the animals to stand out and become the focal point of the composition. The mass of the contour is very evident against a crisp white background creating the animal to be salient and contrasting the black and white. Having a simplistic vague background makes the pattern of the giraffe and the hyena stand out. 

Using these monochromatic tones show the true characteristics of the captivated animals and accentuates their features. Having lack of color equals to what the animal’s emotions were going on as to the controlled environment they are kept in. In Whitley’s compositions there are no distractions as he has only used two colors. This allows whitely to place focus on the animal and not its surroundings in contrast to Franz Marc that had the whole artwork covered in color, shapes and distracting objects that lead the viewers eyes in all sorts of directions. The ‘Giraffe ‘and ‘Hyena’ are very close to the viewer, this shows the animal trapped in an enclosed environment.   

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