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“Landschaft mit Kirche und Weg” (Landscape with church and lane) by August Macke-1911

” The most important thing for me is the direct observation of nature in its light-filled existence.” August Macke

German expressionist painter August Macke was born August Robert Ludwig Macke on January 3, 1887. His father, August Friedrich, was a civil engineer and a successful building contractor, who drew in his spare time. His mother, Maria Florentine was from a farm family and always instilled in her family a love of nature.  During his school years, August Macke had a fascination of art and a talent for sketching and painting.   

 Self-portrait by August Macke 1906

In 1903 he met his future wife Elisabeth Gerhardt, the daughter of Bonn factory owner Carl Gerhardt.  Elisabeth became his most important model. Macke painted portraits of her more than two hundred times.


Portrait of the artist's wife with a hat by August Macke 1909

In 1904, August left school and began training at the Royal Academy of Art in Düsseldorf. His family, who always thought he would be an engineer was opposed to this change in training.   But the rebel in Macke caused him to criticize the rigid curriculum. So he simultaneously began attending classes at Düsseldorf Kunstgewerbeschule with a more diverse art curriculum.    During this period August Macke also widened his interests an  designed stage decorations and costumes for a series of performances. Macke took a trip to Paris in 1907, where he fell in love with impressionism art.

Saint George by August Macke 1912

In 1908 to 1909 August served his mandatory one-year of military service, which interrupted his artistic work.  

August Macke and Elisabeth Gerhardt photographed in Bonn during 1908

After completing his military service, he married Elisabeth Gerhardt in October 1909. The couple’s honeymooned in Paris, where August Macke encountered works by the Fauves and the Futurists. At one exhibition he met Franz Marc. August and Franz soon became close friends, and the more established artist began to mentor him.



August, Elisabeth, Walter and Wolfgang Macke photographed in 1911

Elisabeth and August had two sons, Walter and Wolfgang. The couple often socialized with other artists such as Franz Marc and his wife Maria. They also spent time with Gabriele Münter and her group of Avant Garde Artists.  Münter studied and lived with the painter Wassily Kandinsky and this group of artists became leading-founding members of the expressionist group Der Blaue Reiter.

“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?’ “Auguste Macke.


"To hear the thunder is to perceive its secret. To understand the language of forms means to be closer to the secret, to live." - August Macke



The Garden by August Macke 1911

From 1910 to 1913 Macke was extremely busy creating his art and championing his opinions about art and nature. Exhibitions in renowned galleries ensured that his reputation grew beyond Germany, including participation in an exhibition of Karo-Bube (Jack of Diamonds) in Moscow. In addition, he appeared as an organizer of important exhibitions. At the Gereonsklub in Cologne, he showed works by avant-garde artists who had previously been little known.


Big Zoo Triptych by August Macke 1913

At the outbreak of World War I, Macke was drafted into Infantry Regiment No. 160 on August 1, 1914. His letters from the field reflect the horrors and cruelty of war. He was killed on September 26, 1914, at the age of 27 in Champagne France. Macke is buried in a collective grave in the military cemetery at Souain.

The Farewell by August Macke 1914

The Last picture he ever created was The Farwell.


 Woman in the Garden by August Macke 1911

“Cubism, Futurism, Expressionism, abstract painting, are only names given to a change which our artistic thinking wants to make and is thinking. Nobody has ever painted fallen raindrops suspended in the air, they’ve always been depicted as streaks (even the cave-men drew herds of reindeer in the same way). Now people are painting cabs rattling, lights flickering, people dancing, all-in the same way (this is how we all see movement). That is thew whole frightfully simple secret of Futurism. It is very easy to prove its artistic feasibility, for all the philosophizing that has been raised against it. Space, surface, and time are different things, which ought not to be mixed, is the continuous cry. If only it were possible to separate them. I can’t do it.”– August Macke, in a letter to philosopher Eberhard Grisebach, March 1913


Children at the Fountain by August Macke 1914

In the ten years that August Macke painted he created an impressive body of work. His art style underwent many artistic changes.   As a gifted artist Macke integrated his philosophy of art and of life into his paintings.