August Macke and Franz Marc

An artist friendship

August Macke and Franz Marc

On occasion of the centennial of August Macke’s death, the Lenbachhaus, in collaboration with the Kunstmuseum Bonn, presents the first exhibition to explore Macke’s friendship with Franz Marc and the exchange of artistic ideas between them. With around two hundred paintings, works on paper, objets d’art, and private documents, the show offers a vivid picture of the two artists’ lives and art between 1910 and 1914, illustrating how Macke and Marc inspired each other and highlighting the close and affectionate ties between them.

Macke first visited Marc in his studio in Munich on January 6, 1910. The two struck up a deeply felt friendship and began a creative dialogue that would enter the annals of twentieth-century art. Their close collaboration was short-lived: Macke died in 1914, only weeks after the outbreak of World War I; in 1916, the war took Marc’s life as well.

The exhibition is divided into chapters that portray the two artists’ creative evolution from 1910 on, document their early encounters in Sindelsdorf, Tegernsee, and Bonn, examine their debates over the theory of colors, and show them at work on the ‘Blue Rider.’ Documents from their shared travels and their visits to each other’s homes, the gifts they gave each other, and objets d’art from their possessions also illustrate the important roles their wives, Elisabeth Macke and Maria Marc, played in their friendship. In 1912, they met in Macke’s studio in Bonn to paint the mural Paradies as a testament to their mutual attachment. The exhibition shows in detail how Macke and Marc absorbed the inspirations of Fauvism, Cubism, Futurism, and abstraction. Out of these influences, each crafted his own art, whose development the exhibition traces to the last pictures they created in 1914 before the catastrophe of the war put an all too early end to their lives and oeuvres.

Both artists were very young when they first met—August Macke had only just turned twenty-three and Franz Marc was about to turn thirty. Neither the contrast between their personalities—Macke was impulsive and outspoken, whereas Marc was often pensive and always very deliberate in his actions—nor their diverging views on art and the politics of culture ever cast a shadow on the bonds of affection between them. In his famous obituary for Macke, Marc highlights the loss his young friend’s death meant for art with great precision, but it is also, and first and foremost, a token of his profound grief.
The collections of the Lenbachhaus and the Kunstmuseum Bonn form the basis for this comprehensive exhibition. Macke spent the greater part of his life in Bonn; Marc was the only native son of Munich among the artists of the ‘Blue Rider,’ of whose oeuvres the Lenbachhaus holds the world’s most important collection. Numerous eminent works on loan from German and international museums and private collections help round out the show.

An extensive catalogue featuring essays by renowned writers, 210 color plates, and numerous additional illustrations, will be published in conjunction with the exhibition. 360 pp., Hatje Cantz Verlag, 34 €, available in the museumshop.

The film "Beyond Paintings" combines private photographs and numerous works of art with images of the settings of August and Elisabeth Macke’s and Franz and Maria Marc’s lives for a vivid portrayal of the friendship between the two couples is screened in the Artrium.
Duration: 60 min., screenplay by Bernt Engelmann and Gisela Wunderlich, tasca films munich. The english version of the film (60 min.) is available in the museumshop (€ 19.80).

A collaboration between the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus München and the Kunstmuseum Bonn
The exhibition in Bonn: September 25, 2014 - January 4, 2015