August Macke

August Macke- To the 125th birthday of the great German expressionist

“He has given from us all the colours of the brightest and purest sound, so bright and clear as his whole being was“. August Macke is one of the best known German expressionists. With its colorful, luminous images and idyllic motives he can still inspire the art world. He was born 125 years ago in Meschede in Sauerland. When he fell too young at the age of 27 years few weeks after the start of the first World War in France, he left a very extensive work of nearly 600 oil paintings and the same number of watercolors and about 9000 drawings and sketches.

He was born on 3. January, 1887 as a son of a building contractor and grew up in Cologne. The most important time of his life he spent, however, in Bonn where he painted his master pieces. Against the wishes of his father he left early the high school to study at the Academy of Arts in Dusseldorf. But also here it kept him not long, because they seemed to him too conservative. He visited from now on evening classes of the local art school there and designed at the age of 19 years sets and costumes for the Dusseldorf theatre.

In 1909 he married his childhood love Elisabeth Gerhardt, a factory owners daughter and lived with her on 1910 – 11 at Tegernsee in Bavaria where he met Franz Marc and developed with him strategies for spreading of the avant-garde art in Germany. He joined with Marc the artist’s group of the „blue rider“ and provided for their first exhibition to come to Cologne. However, he could not make friends with their founder of the group, Wassily Kandinsky and his quest for abstraction so surely and left this soon again. Since as a “typical” expressionist he lacked the inner conflict and radicality to act as a provocateur of the current art. He was turned rather to the life and loved it too much.

Much stronger he was inspired by the French painters at that time, particularly by the Matisse exhibition in Munich 1910,but above all, however, by the contact with Robert Delaunay who influenced him with his fragmenting colour compositions very strongly and motivated him to his later window-frames and abstract compositions.Thus Macke had the intention to bring his expressionist colleagues in Rhineland together and to help Dusseldorf as a centre of art to its former glory and became from now on at 1912 the coorganizer of various art exhibitions in Cologne, Munich, Bonn and Berlin.

At the end of 1913 he moved with his family in Switzerland, at Lake of Thun where his major work phases began. Here he found at last to his own style, the representation of a cheerful-transfigured world of idleness and Sunday’s rest, carried by a German painting in the joy of coloured expression („People in the blue lake, 1913“). In April, 1914 he teamed up with Paul Klee a trip to Tunis where he painted a row today famous, in her clarity and color unmatched watercolors („Market in Tunis“, in 1914). The outbreak of 1st World War to which he was drafted as a soldier finished this his most productive time. He fell already in 1914 in the Champagne and was buried on the soldier’s cemetery in Souain. Franz Marc .his best painting friend,said in his obituary: “He has given from us all of the colour the brightest and purest sound, so bright and clear as his whole being was“.

In the permanent exhibition of the Art Museum of Bonn: AUGUST MACKE 125 years – the most extensive collection of paintings from all creating periods of the artist can be visited.






Friedrich-Ebert-Allee 2

53113 Bonn

Tel.: 0228 776260

Fax: 0228 776220


Bildquelle: Mädchen unter Bäumen (1917) Pinakothek der Moderne

Ausgangstext – Androgon –




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