Completed in the spring of 1913, Tower of Blue Horses is considered one of the great masterpieces of German Expressionism and one of the artist Franz Marc’s finest works. It’s a monumental painting—measuring six feet, six inches by four feet, three inches—that depicts four thundering blue horses said to represent the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Beautiful and ominous, it reflects Marc’s use of bold color and form, and imagery of animals in nature, to capture the spiritual truth of reality. It was painted as Marc was experimenting with letting go completely of form and is significant as an early harbinger of abstraction.

The picture appeared briefly, in a startling cameo, in this year’s Academy Award–nominated film Never Look Away, and is the subject of Der Turm der Blauen Pferde, a thriller published in February. In 2017, in simultaneous exhibitions at the Pinakothek der Moderne, in Munich, and the Haus am Waldsee, in Berlin, 16 contemporary artists paid homage to Marc’s picture with works that examined its “mythology” and the enduring fascination it evokes.