August Macke is the true definition of those rare breed of artists who blessed the art world with their presence but were unfortunately taken away too soon. Regarded by many as one of the greatest German artists of the 20th century, Macke’s simple and pleasant depictions of everyday household life made a very important contribution to Expressionism. Macke was one of the leading figures of the German Expressionist group The Blue Rider. Despite his short eight year career as an artist, Macke produced an astounding 600 oil paintings and water colors and nearly 9000 drawings, very prolific for an artist who was only able to show a mere glimpse of what he was capable of. One often wonders if he had lived what other marvels would he have produced. His vast array of work is considered a monumental achievement for Expressionism.
August Robert Ludwig Macke was born in 1887 in Meschede, Westphalia, the only child to a building contractor and his wife. Macke’s father also happened to be an amateur artist whose works had a profound impact on the young Macke. At the age of 13 Macke met Elisabeth who would go on to become his wife and whose support and finances played an important hand in enabling Macke to get his feet off the ground as an artist. Apart from his father’s paintings Macke was heavily influenced by Japanese prints and the works of Arnold Bocklin. During his university years Macke contributed to the Dusseldorf Theater’s costume designs and sets. This was followed by many trips to Italy, Holland, Belgium, and Paris where he visited exhibitions, met artists and was introduced to the worlds of Cubism and Fauvism. Macke always considered art to be told in the form of a beautiful story, a song which focuses on the beauty of things. Due to his influences and vast travels Macke was able to execute colors in a way that they gave a luminous effect to his paintings. His art has distinct characteristics of brightness and clarity, a very signature Macke style. Within three years Macke produced an abundance of drawing and paintings which firmly put him on the map as one of the top tier of Europe’s avant garde artists. Apart from Macke The Blue Rider group comprised of German painters Franz Marc and Wassily Kandinsky, the group focused on inspiring the younger generation of German artists and publishing numerous articles on Expressionism and the inner workings of the German art community. Through the group Macke became a powerful voice which promoted modern art in Germany, a voice which also inspired countless young German painters.
Apart from his career as a painter August Macke also made a powerful impact due to his personality, his warmth and openness enabled him to become an important central figure within the art world. His lack of ego and willingness to offer advice was unparalleled during a time when artists often shirked away from others and got sucked into the bad side of art. With Macke there was a genuine sense of goodness and unselfishness which made his passing even more difficult not just for his family and friends but for the art world as well.