Our Artists

August Macke

The German painter August Macke broke away from academic formalism to explore more innovative currents. He was initially attracted by impressionism, then fauvism, but he finally achieved a mature painting style when he joined the expressionists.


From academicism to impressionism

Born in Meschede on 3 January 1887, August Macke entered the Düsseldorf Academy of Fine Arts in 1904. His attraction for innovative subjects soon led him to follow evening classes at the School of Decorative Arts, and he left the Academy in 1906.
He then decided to travel to improve his knowledge of art; he visited Italy, Holland, Belgium and London, finally discovering impressionism in Paris in
1907. This discovery changed his approach to painting.
On his return to Bonn, he decided to work out of doors. Influenced by impressionist painting, and by Seurat, Cézanne and Matisse, he produced his oil sketch: Arbre dans un champ de blé. (Tree in a wheat field)

1909-1911: a fertile creative period

After his military service, Macke married Elizabeth Gerhardt. During their honeymoon trip to Paris he painted his famous Autoportrait au chapeau (Self-portrait in a hat).
Thus began a particularly fruitful period. On his return to Tegernsee, Macke took advantage of the peaceful environment to produce over two hundred impressionist-inspired paintings
Macke’s work took a new turn in late 1909. Under Cézanne’s influence, he painted two portraits of his wife: Femme de l’artiste au chapeau and Portrait aux pommes. (The artist’s wife in a hat and Portrait with apples). A strong Fauvist influence can also be seen in these paintings: the colour is heightened and the drawing simplified. Colour played an increasingly important part in the artist’s work. In 1907 he said: “I have now placed my entire salvation in the search for pure colour”. 

Macke and the “Blaue Reiter” (Blue Horseman)

With fauvism tending to lose momentum in the early 20th Century, Macke gradually moved towards expressionism, which was an extension of fauvism.  Around this current, and as a reaction against academicism, Macke and a group of artists that included Kandinsky, Marc and Jawlensky founded le Cavalier Bleu (The Blue Horseman). Macke played an active part in drawing up the Blue Horseman almanac, but was very disappointed with the exhibition that took place in Munich in February 1912. He broke off relations with the members of this innovative movement, and even caricatured them in 1913 in a pictorial satire, Caricature du Cavalier Bleu. (Caricature of the Blue Horseman).

1913-1914: a mature painting style

In 1913 Macke moved to Switzerland where he enjoyed another very fruitful period focusing on the patterns of nature and man. During a particularly rewarding stay in Tunisia, he completed a series of watercolours, including Kairouan (1914), which show a clear change in style. Macke was called up in August and died on the battlefield in Champagne on 26 September 1914; his last painting was titled Der Abschied… (Farewell)


Arbre dans un champ de blé, (Tree in a wheat field) 1907
Autoportrait au chapeau, (Self-portrait with a hat) 1909
Portrait de l'artiste au chapeau, (Portrait of the artist with a hat) 1909
Paysage du Tegernsee, (Tegernsee landscape) 1910
Composition de couleurs, (Colour composition) 1912
Paysage des environs de Hammamet, (Countryside around Hammamet) 1914
Kairouan, 1914

August Macke 's products at Nouvelles Images

> Prints and posters

Prints and posters Kairouan I Prints and posters View on an Alley

Nationality(ies) : German
Born on : 03/01/1887
Died on : 26/09/1914
Profile : Painter
Artistic current(s) : Expressionism, Impressionism , Fauvism
Theme(s) covered : Love - friendship, Art of living, Fine Art, Still life, Landscapes - Nature, Portraits - Characters, Travel