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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Learn more about the man behind the art with this list of insightful August Macke quotes. Also included are opinions about his short but influential life from other major art figures.

The artistic style of August Macke was an extraordinary combination of Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Fauvism and Expressionism. His approach was unique, but influenced by many artists that he had studied in his younger years. A number of quotes from this artist's life have helped us to put a clearer picture of his career together and understand just why he created art in the way that he did. Further down this page are some significant quotes about his achievements from other related individuals, such as fellow members of the Der Blaue Reiter group (Klee, Kandinsky, Marc) which was to become so impactful itself.

Famous Quotes by August Macke

Manet paints women with white, glowing skin - full of life; his own soul is so full of poetry that he doesn't need to make water nymphs of them.

I'm getting to like the Impressionists more and more - especially Manet.

There was one Manet i saw amongst all the Titians, Rubens and van Dycks - oh i can tell you, it was divine!

The whole caboodle starts at 8 o'clock and finishes at five in the afternoon. The youngest has to make the coffee, and everyone puffs away at those small English pipes while working. We draw only from plaster-work junk i.e. plaster-casts. We're learning a tremendous amount.

The freer atmosphere there [his new evening classes] and his day-to-day work with living forms, with plants and animals, appealed far more to him than all that dead academic stuff.

August Macke and his later wife, describing several different classes that he attended in Dusseldorf in 1904-1905 during his very early development.

The association is a very serious matter, and i like it's art better than anything else. But, but - it doesn't really grip me. It interests me a lot. Bossi, Munter and Kanoldt are perhaps the weakest, and therefore the easiest to take for granted. Kandinsky, Bechtejeff and Erbsloh have enormous artistic sensibility. But their means of expression are too great for what they are trying to say. Their voices sound so good, so fine, that what they are actually saying remains hidden. They thus seem to lack something human. They wrestle with form far too much, in my view. One can learn from what they are trying to do. But Kandinsky's early work, and also some of Jawlensky, is rather too empty for my liking.

Macke's views on the Neue Künstlervereinigung München in late 1910

I have been to [gallery] Hagen, saw two Matisses, which enchanted me. A large collection of Japanese masks. Sublime! 'Neue [Künstler] Vereinigung' were hung in a bad light.. ..Kandinsky, Jawlensky, Bechteleff and Erbslöh have immense artistic sensibility. But the means of expression are to big for what they have to say. The sound of their voice is so good, so fine, that what is being said get lost. Consequently a human element is missing. They concentrate, too much, I think, on form. There is much to be learnt from their efforts. But early things by Kandinsky, and a few by Jawlensky too, seem a little empty to me. And Jawlensky's heads looked at me a little bit too much with colors. With blue and green. I hope you understand what I mean.

In a letter to Franz Marc, December 1910

I have just been thinking that the Blaue Reiter (Blue Rider) does not really represent my work. I have always been convinced that other things of mine are more important.. .Narcism, fake heroism, and blindness have a lot to answer for, in the 'Blaue Reiter'. All those high-sounding words about the birth of a great spiritual moment still resounding in my ears. Kandinsky can air his personal opinion about that or any other revolution he cares to mention. But I dislike the whole thing.. .Take my advice – work, and don't spent so much time thinking about blue riders or blue horses.

In a letter to Franz Marc, January 1912

Cubism, Futurism, Expressionism, abstract painting, are only names given to a change which our artistic thinking wants to make and is thinking. Nobody has ever painted fallen raindrops suspended in the air, they've always been depicted as streaks (even the cave-men drew herds of reindeer in the same way). Now people are painting cabs rattling, lights flickering, people dancing, all-in the same way (this is how we all see movement). That is thew whole frightfully simple secret of Futurism. Its very easy to prove its artistic feasibility, for all the philosophizing that has been raised against it. Space, surface and time are different things, which ought not to be mixed together, is the continuous cry. If only it were possible to separate them. I can't do it.

In order to paint one must be able to see an object in its uniform tone, in its whole magic, be it a flower or a human hair. All the paintings created this way are the mirrors of a soul in harmony. It is quite simply vast and has no need of symbols in order to paint the sea.

The most important thing for me is the direct observation of nature in its light-filled existence.

The senses are our bridge between the incomprehensible and the comprehensible.

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.

I'm interested in creating a space through color contrasts, rather than by simple shadows of light and dark.

Quotes about August Macke from Fellow Artists and Art Historians

He gave a brighter and purer sound to colour than any of us; he gave it the clarity and brightness of his whole being.

Franz Marc, describing August Macke

He could think of nothing but his painting, and would simply not bother with anything which didn't fit in with his plans.

Elisabeth Erdmann-Macke, Recollections of Auguste Macke, 1962

The harvest of your Summer [1910] is displayed on our walls. I like some of them terrifically. The 'certainty' with which most of it is done makes me feel ashamed of myself. The thousand steps that I need to take for a picture are of no advantage, as I sometimes foolishly used to think. Things must change.

Franz Marc

In war we are all equal, but among a thousand good men, a bullet hit an irreplaceable one.. .We painters know well that with the loss of his harmony [of August Macke], the color in German art will become many shades paler..

Franz Marc

Germany today certainly has no idea what it owes to this young, dead painter—how much he accomplished, how much he succeeded at. Everything he touched with his skilled hands, anyone who came near him, came alive - every kind of material, and above all, the people whose imagination he magically captured with his ideas. How much we painters in Germany owe to him! What he has sowed will still bear fruit, and we, as his friends, want to make sure that they do not remain a secret.

Franz Marc, in his obituary for August Macke, 1914