“What I most cherish is the observation of the movement of colors." - The German Expressionist Painter August Macke

3 January 1887, August Macke, one of the leading members of the German Expressionist group Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), was born in Meschede.

“What I most cherish is the observation of the movement of colors. Only in this have I found the laws of those simultaneous and complementary color contrasts that nourish the actual rhythm of my vision. In this I find the actual essence, an essence which is not born out of an a priori system or theory.“ (August Macke)

August Macke’s “Großes helles Schaufenster” (Big bright shop window), 1912.

It was the end of the narrative. The pluralism of styles that exploded across Europe around 1900 saw the artistic exaltation of “the transitory, the fugitive, the contingent“, as Baudelaire put it 50 years earlier, the idealisation of capturing individual perception, ephemeral affectivities and perspectives, landscapes and inscapes deconstructed into geometrical forms exploding in a swirl of colours with complete abstraction looming just around the corner. On the eve of the Great War, when Modern art still had its innocence before the cataclysm piled everything up to a heap of broken images, Kandinsky, Franz Marc and others grouped together for a short while, as transitive as their motives, and expressed their superstructure of painting. Thoughts on the alliance of music and the visual arts, spirituality and the symbolic significance of colours, spontaneity and intuition and, as a common denominator, the desire to express truth in painting, were the thoughts that brought together the movement “Der Blaue Reiter”, expressed in their Almanac, published in 1912, and exposed in their exhibition tour across Europe. One of the major contributors was Franz Marc’s artist friend August Macke.

August Macke: "Red House in the Park" (1914)

With the background of being a bit of a well-educated country bumpkin, the young art student Macke described his Damascus experience during a visit to an exhibition of contemporary art at the Folkwang Museum in Essen with the words “Wir waren ganz jeck”, he went all nuts, and from then on became a pillar of the Expressionist movement in Germany, soaking up influences of Impressionism, Fauvism and early Cubism like a sponge and pressing out genuine works of art over the short period of about seven years. He managed to bridge especially Cubism and Expressionism like no other of the blue riders and the artists that formed “Die Brücke”, with a palette as colourfully buoyant as Marc’s, not sweetish though and at least as detached as his friend’s, even if Macke usually did not indulge in remote Symbolism but chose everyday scenes as his favourite sujet. Early in 1914, he set forth with his painter friends Paul Klee and Louis Moillet for an artist’s journey to Tunisia. He came back in July with a wealth of drawings, photographs and ideas about how to take a new turn on Expressionism and art in general. They remained dreams. In August war broke and Macke along with many of his artist colleagues flocked to the colours and fell two months later in France at the age of 27.

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