Painter Franz Marc, who died at a tragically young age in WWI combat, is best remembered as a central figure in German Expressionism and one of the founders of Der Blaue Reiter with his admired friend Wassily Kandinsky. Marc had studied theology, then philosophy, before turning ultimately to art as a career. At the Munich Academy, he studied under Gabriel von Hackl and Wilhelm von Diez, mostly painting in an academic style of naturalism. Upon traveling to France, Marc’s work began to demonstrate his reverence for Impressionism and the work of Vincent van Gogh. Later he would develop a style of abstraction derived from Kandinsky’s precedent, ascribing colors symbolic values. Color for Marc came to embody emotional and spiritual states. Animals were also frequent subjects in his paintings—Marc considered them more spiritual and closer to nature than humans.