imuse_header

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Macke, August


Zoologischer Garten I
1912
oil on canvas
98 x 58 cm
Lenbachhaus, Munich, Germany

"A work of art is a parable, it is man's thought, an autonomous idea of an artist, a song about the beauty of things: a work of art is the noble differentiated expression of man who is capable of something more than merely saying: 'Isn't that beautiful?' " (Macke)

August Macke (1887 - 1914) was one of the leading members of the German Expressionist group The Blue Rider (Der Blaue Reiter). He was born in Westphalia. His father was a building contractor and his mother came from a farming family in  Westphalia. He lived during a particularly innovative time for German art which saw the development of the main German Expressionist movements as well as the arrival of the successive Avant-garde movements which were forming in the rest of Europe.

His style was formed within the mode of French Impressionism and Post-impressionism and later went through a Fauve period. In 1910, through his friendship with Franz Marc, he met Kandinsky and for a while shared the non-objective aesthetic and the mystical and symbolic interests of Der Blaue Reiter. Macke's meeting with Robert Delaunay in Paris in 1912 was to be a sort of revelation for him. Delaunay's chromatic Cubism, which Apollinaire had called Orphism, influenced Macke's art from that point onwards. His Shops Windows can be considered a personal interpretation of Delaunay's Windows, combined with the simultaneity of images found in Italian Futurism. The exotic atmosphere of Tunisia, where Macke traveled in 1914 with Paul Klee and Louis Moilliet was fundamental for the creation of the luminist approach of his final period, during which he produced a series of works now considered masterpieces. The paintings concentrate primarily on expressing feelings and moods rather than reproducing objective reality, usually distorting color and form.

Macke's career was cut short by his early death on September 26, 1914 as a soldier near Perthe-les-Hurlus in the Champagne, the second month of World War I. He died in battle at the age of twenty-seven. His final painting depicts the mood of gloom that settled after the outbreak of war. Despite his short life, he leaves a mature and extensive oeuvre of great strength and high quality.