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 to 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 were 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”.
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 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.
1887 – born in Meschede on 03 January.
1900 – The family moves to Bonn.
1904 – Begins studies of art at the Düsseldorf Art Academy & School of Arts and Crafts.
1907 – Travels to Paris and relocates to Berlin to pursue his studies. Impressed by French Impressionism, he becomes a student of Lovis Corinth.
1909 – Marriage to Elisabeth Gerhardt and move to Tegernsee.
1910 – Birth of the first son, Walter, and acquaintance with Franz Marc. Return of the family to Bonn.
1911 – Joins the artists’ collective “Der Blaue Reiter”.
1913 – 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.
1914 – 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.