August Macke

August Robert Ludwig Macke (* 3 January 1887 in Meschede; † 26 September 1914 near Perthes-lès-Hurlus, France) was a German painter. He is one of the most important artists of German Expressionism and was represented in both exhibitions of the "Blaue Reiter".

Family and artistic development of August Macke

In 1900 August Macke's family moved to Bonn, where he completed his school education. Even during his school years, the young August Macke showed a keen interest in art and demonstrated talent in painting and drawing. He met his future wife Elisabeth Gerhard in 1903. She would become his most important model.

In 1904 Macke began studying at the Düsseldorf Art Academy and the School of Arts and Crafts, but after two years decides finish his studies early. In June 1907 the young artist travels to Paris and later that year decides to move to Berlin and further pursue his studies under Lovis Corinth. Bernhard Koehler, Elisabeth's uncle and himself an enthusiastic art collector and patron, makes the trip to Paris financially possible for him. Macke begins a year of military service in 1908, which interrupts his artistic work. After his return, the artist marries Elisabeth Gerhard. Their honeymoon takes them to Paris again, where Macke comes into contact with Fauvism and Futurism. After the trip the couple settles at Tegernsee. Their sons Walter and Wolfgang are born in 1910 and 1913.

August Macke and the Blue Rider

After an exhibition in Munich, August Macke made the acquaintance of Franz Marc in 1910. A lifelong friendship developed, through which Macke also came into contact with the representatives of the exhibition group "Der Blaue Reiter". In the same year the family moved back to Bonn. In 1912 he participated in the "Sonderbund" exhibition in Cologne both artistically and organisationally. He also played a major role in the organisation of the Autumn Salon in Berlin in September 1913 and the exhibition of the "Rhenish Expressionists".

In order to concentrate more on his artistic work, Macke moved to Hilterfingen in Switzerland. The artists Louis Moilliet and Paul Klee live in the immediate vicinity. A year later the three artists set off on a journey to Tunisia. This trip to Tunis was intended to provide mutual stimulation. Macke used this trip to make many photographs, drawings and watercolours. Some of these travel documents later served him as the basis for paintings.
August Macke was drafted into the war in 1914 and was killed on 26 September of the same year on the Western Front near Perthes-lès-Hurlus in the Champagne region. He was 27 years old at the time of his death.

Reception of August Macke

August Macke approached the diverse art movements of his time with interest and experimented with different painting styles. His extensive colour palette is characteristic. In his paintings and watercolours he created a colourful and cheerful world. The pictures often have a dreamlike quality.
Initially working in an Impressionist style, the artist was gradually inspired by Futurism and Fauvism to lend his depictions a stricter tectonic structure, thus giving the composition more surface and stability. Macke's main motifs were portraits, still lifes and landscapes with repetitive themes. He painted, for example, strollers, women in front of shop windows, fashion shops or children in nature.

Liegende Frau mit Reh, 1912, Watercolor and pencil on paper, 25,7 × 30,7 cm

Mädchen im Park, 1913, Pencil on paper, 16 × 10 cm

Leute auf der Straße, , Oil on cardboard (linen textured), mounted on cardboard, 21,3 × 16,2 cm


born in Meschede on 03 January.
Family moves to Bonn.
Begins studies of art at the Düsseldorf Art Academy & School of Arts and Crafts.
Travels to Paris and relocates to Berlin to pursue his studies. Impressed by French Impressionism, he becomes a student of Lovis Corinth.
Marriage to Elisabeth Gerhardt and move to Tegernsee.
Birth of the first son Walter and acquaintance with Franz Marc. Return of the family to Bonn.
Joins the artists' collective "Der Blaue Reiter".
Birth of the second son Wolfgang. Macke plays a major role in the organization of the Autumn Salon in Berlin & the exhibition of the "Rhenish Expressionists" in Bonn. The family moves to Hilterfingen on Lake Thun.
Study trip to Tunisia with Paul Klee & Louis Moilliet (Tunis journey). In August, he is called up for military service. On September 26, August Macke is to fall on the Western Front at Perthes-lès-Hurlus at the age of 27.

Artist groups

Classical Modernism

Classical Modernism comprises various art and style movements of the first half of the 20th century. Especially across countries, there is a great heterogeneity of the arts, whereby not all artists and works can be clearly categorised. Classical Modernism includes not only the visual arts but also design, architecture and photography. The tremendous wealth of currents and tendencies in Classical Modernism shows similarities and differences and proves how strong the exchange among artists is beyond national borders and stylistic movements. Alongside the artists of Expressionism, Surrealism, Cubism, Futurism, New Objectivity and various other avant-garde movements, painters such as Marc Chagall, Marino Marini, Lovis Corinth, Marcel Duchamp, Egon Schiele, Hannah Höch, Maria Lassnig, Max Ernst, Robert Delaunay and Paul Klee belong to Classical Modernism.


The artist group "ZERO" was founded in 1958 by the artists Heinz Mack and Otto Piene. In 1961 Günther Uecker joins the group. The artists desire to break through various traditional genres of art. Usage of light as a medium and artistic element is intended to produce a spatial pictorial language, whereby entirely unconventional visual effects are achieved. They experiment with a wide variety of materials: by using illuminants, mirrors and other reflective materials, nails and fire, they create fascinating kinetic and expansive works that, in their interactive dynamics, are intended to entice viewers not only to look but to actively engage with the works themselves. In this way, the static character of traditional works of art is broken. In Germany and internationally, "ZERO" quickly enjoyed a broad audience and many like-minded artists, including Gotthard Graubner, Johannes Gecelli, Hans Haacke, Yves Klein, Jean Tinguely and Lucio Fontana.