Woman Reading August Macke Buy Art Prints Now
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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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August Macke produced a series of paintings depicting figures reading, normally women. In most it was individual figures, as seen here, but in some cases there were multiple people together.

Woman Reading is most likely to have come in 1909, due to its similarities with other artworks from this period, such as Portrait with Apples and Woman Sewing. Macke used the same model in all of these paintings and even portrayed her in the same clothing. He uses minimal detail on this female, leaving her hands completely untouched. Her face has enough detail to get a good understanding of her features and also to recognise her from other portraits, but elsewhere the rest of the scene is fairly simple. Macke concentrated on colour for most of his career and did not concern himself with too much detail within his compositions, even though he was more than technically capable of doing so. His career involved a progression towards abstraction, with detail becoming more and more sparse year-on-year. Sadly his career would be cut short by WWI, so we can only summise as to how far he would have gone given a longer period to his career.

The lady in this scene seems content, relaxed and truly focused on her book. Macke spent this period featuring domestic scenes over an extended period but spent much of the rest of his career concentrating on the outdoors, be it gardens or more wild settings. The model wears a long dark dress which is completed in the same tones of colour that the artist used for her hair. A white shawl is draped over her, perhaps to keep her warm on a cold night. She relaxed on a smart, cushioned chair and perhaps is sat in her living room, enjoying a rare moment of peace and quiet to enjoy some leisure time. Macke's paintings were limited by his short career, making each original piece even more valuable. They are currently spread around a combination of domestic institutions and private collectors, with some having moved abroad over the years that have passed since his life passed in 1914.

There has been a growing respect for the German Expressionists during the 20th and 21st centuries, and this has led to increased focus on the likes of Macke plus other related artists such as Kirchner, Klee and Kandinsky. Their careers were related but their styles truly unique. The closest to Macke stylistically would have to be Franz Marc, with the two having spent considerable amounts of time together and certainly considering each other close friends. Some of Macke's paintings are distinctly similar to Marc's approach of fractured form with a devotion to colour.