August Macke

German painter of the expressionist group Der Blaue Reiter (1887-1914)

August Macke (3 January 188726 September 1914) was a German Expressionist artist, who was well-known for introducing bright colors in the early stages of Expressionism. He was part of the art-group Der Blaue Reiter, which he joined through his friendship with Franz Marc, and knew Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Robert Delaunay; before his death in the First World War, he would leave behind hundreds of artworks, celebrated by the people around him.

Self-portrait by August Macke, 1910

Quotes of August Macke edit

sorted chronologically, by date of the quotes of August Macke
August Macke, 1908: 'At river Rhine near Hersel', medium and location unknown
August Macke, 1910: 'Portrait of Franz Marc / Porträt des Franz Marc', oil on paperboard; current location: Neue Nationalgalerie
August Macke, 1911: 'Garden image / Gartenbild', oil-painting on canvas; current location: collection Westdeutsche Landesbank, Düsseldorf
August Macke, 1912: 'Couple in the woods / Paar im Walde', oil-painting on canvas; private collection
August Macke, 1914: 'Couple at the garden table / Paar am Gartentisch', oil-painting on canvas; private collection - quote of Macke, 1913: 'The new discovery that I have made in painting is the following. There are chords of colors, let's say a certain red and green, which move, shimmer when you look at them. Now if you're looking at a tree in a landscape, you can either look at the tree, or at the landscape, but not both, because of the stereoscopic effect.'
August Macke, 1914: 'View into an alley / Blick in eine Gasse', watercolor on paper; current location: Museum, Mülheim on the Ruhr
  • I have been in Munich this week, and got to know the whole 'Neue Künstlervereinigung' at Tannhauser's [gallery] – Jawlensky, Kandinsky etc. For Munich they are very, very good, I was interested.
    • Quote in Macke's letter to Franz Marc, September 1910; as quoted by de:Wolf-Dieter Dube, in Expressionism; Praeger Publishers, New York, 1973, p. 137
  • I have been to [the gallery] Hagen, saw two Matisses, which enchanted me. A large collection of Japanese masks. Sublime! 'Neue [Künstler] Vereinigung' were hung in a bad light. ... Kandinsky, Jawlensky, Bechteleff and Erbslöh have immense artistic sensibility. But the means of expression are to big for what they have to say. The sound of their voice is so good, so fine, that what is being said get lost. Consequently a human element is missing. They concentrate, too much, I think, on form. There is much to be learnt from their efforts. But early things by Kandinsky, and a few by Jawlensky too, seem a little empty to me. And Jawlensky's heads looked at me a little bit too much with colors. With blue and green. I hope you understand what I mean.
  • I have just been thinking that the Blaue Reiter (Blue Rider) does not really represent my work. I have always been convinced that other things of mine are more important. ... Narcism, fake heroism, and blindness have a lot to answer for, in the 'Blaue Reiter'. All those high-sounding words about the birth of a great spiritual moment still resounding in my ears. Kandinsky can air his personal opinion about that or any other revolution he cares to mention. But I dislike the whole thing. ... Take my advice – work, and don't spent so much time thinking about blue riders or blue horses.
    • In a letter to his friend Franz Marc (Jan. 1912), quoted in 'Meseure 38'; as quoted in Movement, Manifesto, Melee: The Modernist Group, 1910-1914, Milton A. Cohen, Lexington Books, Sep 14, 2004, p. 73, (note 19)
  • 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. Its 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 together, is the continuous cry. If only it were possible to separate them. I can't do it.
  • 'Time' has a large part to play in looking at a picture. A picture (a stupid empty surface to begin with) gets covered in the course of its creation by a rhythmically measured network of colors, lines and dots, which evokes in its final form a total of living movement. The eye jumps from a blue to red, to green (even if there is only a change of form), to a black line, suddenly comes upon a sharp white eruption, follows it, floats on to... It is impossible to take it all in at once. Time is inseparable from surface.
  • He [Robert Delaunay] gives movement itself [in his pictures], the Futurists only illustrate movement.
    • c. 1913; as quoted by de:Wolf-Dieter Dube, in Expressionism; Praeger Publishers, New York, 1973, p. 145
    • Macke visited Delaunay in 1912, in Paris, and Robert Delaunay went to Macke in Bonn, 1913
  • The new discovery that I have made in painting is the following. There are chords of colors, let's say a certain red and green, which move, shimmer when you look at them. Now if you're looking at a tree in a landscape, you can either look at the tree, or at the landscape, but not both, because of the stereoscopic effect. Now, when you are painting something three-dimensional, the chromatic sound which shimmers is the three-dimensional effect of colour, and when you paint a landscape, and the green foliage shimmers a little with the blue sky showing through it, that happens because the green is on a different plane from the sky in nature too. Finding the space-shaping energies of colour, instead of contenting ourselves with a dead chiaroascuro, is our finest task.
  • It was the desire for living, vital expression which built Gothic cathedrals, which created Mozart sonatas. I believe it is going to stay that way for long time to come.
    • In 'The New Program' (1914) - first appeared in Das neue Program, Kunst und Künstler 12. (March 1914)

Quotes about August Macke edit

sorted chronologically, after date of the quotes about August Macke
  • Everything he paints is a search, a self-development, a striving for understanding of the most profound kind. He is still experimenting, not executing, he often paints two or three pictures in a day, and his sketchbooks are already innumerable. He lives in a continuous, sharp criticism of his work and is thus constantly changing and developing. He has, by nature, absolutely no interest in the transcendental. His sensitivity is elemental and deep. He experiences – I would say – those many moments of ecstasy, the alternation between the greatest happiness and the deepest depression, which are the lot of a great artist, who must learn the whole gamut of feeling from his own experience.
  • The harvest of your Summer [1910] is displayed on our walls. I like some of them terrifically. The 'certainty' with which most of it is done makes me feel ashamed of myself. The thousand steps that I need to take for a picture are of no advantage, as I sometimes foolishly used to think. Things must change.
    • Quote of Franz Marc, in a letter to his close friend August Macke, Nov. 1910; as cited by de:Wolf-Dieter Dube, in Expressionism; Praeger Publishers, New York, 1973, p. 128
    • Franz Marc is reacting on Macke who focused in this exhibited works strongly on the independent power of color
  • In war we are all equal, but among a thousand good men, a bullet hit an irreplaceable one. We painters know well that with the loss of his harmony [of August Macke], the color in German art will become many shades paler..
    • Franz Marc's quote in 1914; as cited in the exhibition-text 'Die Blaue Reiter', Gemeentemuseum the Hague, Netherlands 2010
    • on the death of his close friend August Macke, who was killed in the first months of World War 1.
  • Germany today certainly has no idea what it owes to this young, dead painter—how much he accomplished, how much he succeeded at. Everything he touched with his skilled hands, anyone who came near him, came alive - every kind of material, and above all, the people whose imagination he magically captured with his ideas. How much we painters in Germany owe to him! What he has sowed will still bear fruit, and we, as his friends, want to make sure that they do not remain a secret.
  • In the Summer of 1908 he [Macke] returned to Paris, where he was most struck by Cezanne, Seurat and Paul Gauguin. He went to Paris again in 1909, this time in the company of Louis Moilliet. Immediately after this he went to the Tegernsee, a lake in Northern Bavaria. ... he spent a year there, during which, on a visit to Munich, he discovered Marc. ... Macke's encounter with the Blaue Reiter [in Munich], and his rejection of the group's dramatization of the content of art, led him to clarify his idea of what painting meant for him, namely giving an artistic form to impressions of the visible, material world.
    • Quote of de:Wolf-Dieter Dube, in Expressionism; Praeger Publishers, New York, 1973, pp. 138-144

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