Thursday, 18 October 2012
August Macke: Farewell, 1914
August Robert Ludwig Macke is born in Meschede (Sauerland) on January 3. His father, August Friedrich Hermann Macke (1845-1904), is a building contractor and civil engineer with an interest in drawing and collecting old engravings and coins. His mother, Maria Florentine, née Adolph, (1848-1922), comes from a farming family in Germany's Sauerland region. Shortly after his birth, August's parents move to Cologne with him and his two older sisters. The family lives at Brüsseler Strasse until August is 13.
August begins school. In 1897 he enters high school (Kreuzgassengymnasium). He meets Hanns Thuar who lives on the same street and also becomes an artist. The two remain friends for the rest of their lives.
The Macke family moves to Bonn at Meckenheimer Strasse 29 (now Thomas-Mann-Strasse). August's mother runs a small boarding house for college students and teachers to improve the family's the poor financial situation. August enters the intermediate school located at Doetschstrasse. Among his schoolmates are Alfred Schütte and Lothar Erdmann. Schütte's father later makes it possible for August to study at Düsseldorf's art academy, while Erdmann, one of August's best friends, later writes the first biography of Macke and in 1916 marries August's widow Elisabeth. Macke visits his married sister Auguste in Kandern (Black Forest) for the first time. From there he takes trips to the art museum in Basel and develops an enthusiasm for the paintings of Arnold Böcklin.
On the way to school August meets his future wife Elisabeth Gerhardt, 15 year old daughter of a factory owner in Bonn.
Against the will of his father, August leaves high school before graduating. He studies Max Klinger's prints and art theory. In October he is admitted to Düsseldorf's Fine Arts Academy, but soon criticizes its conservative teaching methods and repeated copying of "plaster dummies." His father dies on October 27.
Macke additionally attends evening courses with Professor Fritz Hellmuth Ehmcke at Düsseldorf's School of Applied Arts. Peter Behrens is the Director of the school, and motion studies rather than academic contour drawings are the central artistic theme. Macke is inspired by Japanese art, especially by the work of Katsushika Hokusais. He meets Luxembourg sculptor Claus Cito and writer and dramatist from Bonn Wilhelm Schmidtbonn. The latter introduces him to the circle surrounding Louise Dumont and Gustav Lindemann who direct the newly established Düsseldorf Playhouse. Under their influence, August is inspired by the need for a renewal of theater, and works on designs for stage sets and costumes. In April he travels to Italy with Elisabeth's brother, Walter Gerhardt. At the beginning of the month of August, Macke visits an exhibition showing Arnold Böcklin and Hans Thomas at the Art Association in Heidelberg.