Portrait of the artist August Macke

August Macke

1887-1914

Radiant yellow, bright red, strong blue: the intensity and unique luminosity of the colours are typical of August Macke's work. In his paintings, Macke shows an intact world and primarily focuses on people. Probably because of the influence of his origins and the Rhenish cheerfulness, both as a person and as a painter, August Macke is considered to be one of the most famous German painters of the 20th-century.

Macke was a member of the artists' association "Blauer Reiter" and the most important representative of Rhenish Expressionism. He is considered the greatest German colour talent of his generation. But his drawings, sketches and designs also prove that he is one of the great artists of the 20th-century.

August Macke, born in Meschede on 3 January 1887, began his studies at the Kunstgewerbeschule and Kunstakademie Düsseldorf but dropped out prematurely. On journeys to France, Italy and the Netherlands he studied mainly Impressionism. With the artists of the "Blaue Reiter", whom he had known since 1911, he exhibited several times and contributed to the eponymous almanack. His financial security was assured by his sponsor Bernhard Koehler, an uncle of his wife Elisabeth.

Macke had already found his style of unmistakable independence. Inspired by Cézanne's tectonic pictorial structure and Matisse's flatness, he combined analytical Cubism with the pure colourfulness of Fauvism. The prismatic colours were the principal elements with which August Macke composed his painting. In doing so, the artist used the colours like a musician uses the tones, chords and scales of colourful forms.

As early as 1910, his friendship with Franz Marc enabled him to spend time at Lake Tegernsee. Macke's sensitivity for light effects was already evident in the paintings he created there. This is heightened in the watercolour paintings he produced on the famous trip to Tunis he made with Paul Klee and Louis Moillet in 1914. Simplification of form and the luminosity of the colours characterise this series of works.

For the first time in 1913, Macke‘s work was exhibited together with the works of the European avant-garde at the Sonderbund exhibition in Cologne, which he co-organised.

From 1913 Macke lived in Switzerland with his wife Elisabeth and his son Walter. But the family's happiness only lasted for a short time. As soon as the First Wolrd War began, August Macke was killed on the battlefield in Champagne, France, on 26 September 1914. His friend Franz Marc commented: "The greedy war is a hero's death richer, but German art poorer by one hero."

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