AUGUST MACKE (1887-1914)
August Macke (1887-1914)

Im Bazar

August Macke (1887-1914)
Im Bazar
signed 'Aug. Macke' (lower right)
watercolour and pencil on paper
11 3/8 x 9 in. (28.9 x 22.8 cm.)
Executed in 1914
Louis Moilliet, La Tour de Peilz, by 1914.
Dr. Wolfgang Macke, Bonn, a gift from the above in 1948; sale, R.N. Ketterer, Stuttgart, 3-4 May 1961, lot 292.
Private collection, Hanover, by whom acquired at the above sale, and thence by descent to the present owner.
K. Martin, Reise nach Kairouan, Baden Baden, 1954, no. 8 (illustrated).
G. Vriesen, August Macke, Stuttgart, 1957, no. 489 (illustrated no. S. 301).
G. Busch & W. Holzhausen, Die Tunisreise, Aquarelle und Zeichnungen von August Macke, Cologne, 1958, p. 19 (illustrated p. 50).
G. Busch & W. Holzhausen, Die Tunisreise, Aquarelle und Zeichnungen
von August Macke
, Cologne, 1965, p. 75 (illustrated).
U. Laxner, Stilanalytische Untersuchungen zu den Aquarellen der Tunisreise 1914: Macke, Klee, Moilliet, Bonn, 1967, pp. 57-63, 67, 72, 76, 124.
G. Busch & W. Holzhausen, Die Tunisreise, Aquarelle und Zeichnungen
von August Macke
, Cologne, 1973, p. 99 (illustrated).
E.G. Güse, 'Raum und Fläche - Europa und der Orient, Zu August Mackes Tunis-Aquarellen', in exh. cat. Die Tunisreise, Klee, Macke, Moilliet, Münster, 1982, p. 109 (illustrated p. 14).
E. Erdmann-Macke, Erinnerung an August Macke, Frankfurt, 1987, p. 8 (illustrated).
M.M. Moeller, August Macke, Cologne, 1988, no. 32, pp. 64, 132 and 134 (illustrated p. 133).
M.M. Moeller, August Macke, Die Tunisreise, Munich, 1989, no. 82, pp. 13, 18-19 (illustrated).
E.G. Güse, 'Le voyage de Paul Klee, August Macke et Louis Moilliet en Tunisie', in exh. cat. Figures du Moderne, L'Expressionisme en Allemagne 1905-1914, Paris, 1992, p. 217 (illustrated pl. III.1).
U. Heiderich, August Macke, Aquarelle, Werkverzeichnis, Ostfildern-Ruit, 1997, no. 513, p. 362 (illustrated p. 363).
Oldenburg, Kunstverein, August Macke, Gemälde, Aquarelle und Zeichnungen, 1887-1914, December 1948 - January 1949, no. 77 (titled 'Araber').
Bochum, Richard-Baltz-Haus, August Macke Gedächtnisausstellung, April - May 1949, no. 76.
Duisburg, Städtisches Kunstmuseum, August Macke, May 1949, no. 106 (titled 'Araber').
Dortmund, Museum am Ostwall, August Macke Gedächtnisausstellung, June - July 1949, no. 108 (titled 'Araber').
Munich, Haus der Kunst, Der Blaue Reiter, September - October 1949. Basel, Kunsthalle, Der Blaue Reiter 1908-1914, Kandinsky, Marc, Macke, Klee, Wegbereiter und Zeitgenossen, January - February 1950, no. 128.
Meschede, Landratsamt, August Macke, Gedächtnisausstellung, 1951, no. 82.
The Hague, Gemeentemuseum, August Macke, December 1953 - February 1954, no. 119.
Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, August Macke, February - March 1954, no. 74.
Braunschweig, Kunstverein, August Macke, October 1954, no. 182.
Bonn, Städtische Kunstammlungen, Tunisaquarelle von August Macke, May - June 1955, no. 36.
Kassel, Museum Fridericianum, documenta (I), Kunst des XX. Jahrhunderts, July - September 1955, no. 359.
Münster, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität/Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, August Macke - Gedenkaustellung zum 70. Gerburgstag, January - March 1957, no. 135. Bielefeld, Städtisches Kunsthaus, Macke, Aquarelle-Ausstellung, June - July 1957, no. 489, p. 62 (illustrated).
London, Marlborough Fine Art, Art in Revolt, Germany 1905-25: exhibition in aid of world refugee year, October - November 1959, no. 87.
Paris, Musée d'Art Moderne/Association Française d'Action Artistique, Les sources du XXe siècle, Les arts en Europe de 1884 à 1914, November 1960 - January 1961, no. 395.
Münster, Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, August Macke 1887-1914, Aquarelle und Zeichnungen, December 1976 - February 1977, no. 271, p. 223 (illustrated); this exhibition later travelled to Bonn, Städtisches Kunstmuseum, February - March 1977 and Krefeld, Kaiser-Wilhelm-Museum, April - June 1977.
Bonn, Städtisches Kunstmuseum, Die Rheinischen Expressionisten, August Macke und seine Malerfreunde, May - July 1979, no. 274; this exhibition later travelled to Krefeld, Kaiser-Wilhelm-Museum, August - October 1979 and Wuppertal, Von der Heydt-Museum, October - December 1979.

Brought to you by

Adrienne Dumas
Adrienne Dumas

Lot Essay

'He who paints must be able to see an object in its uniform tone, in its whole magic, be it a flower or a human hair. All paintings created this way are the mirrors of a soul in harmony' (August Macke quoted in A. Meseure, August Macke, Cologne, 2000, p. 1).

On the 6th April 1914, August Macke, along with his friends and fellow painters Paul Klee and Louis Moillet set sail from Marseille for Tunisia. It was only a brief visit to the African country, lasting little more than two weeks, but it was to prove legendary for the impact it had on both art history and on the lives and work of the artists involved. For Klee, the 'Tunisreise' was to have a slow and lasting effect on the development of his work for at least a decade to come, while in contrast, for Macke, it seemed suddenly to bring everything he had previously done and been working towards into focus, galvanizing his energy and immediately intensifying his art. Concentrating his work into a miraculous new fusion of clear form, simplified composition and heightened colour, Macke, in a near feverish burst of productivity created, during this brief journey, numerous works, many of them among the very finest of his career. Im Bazaar, one of the very best of Macke's Tunisian pictures, is also one of the most ambitious and most completely realized of all the works that he produced there. A harmonious and radiant blend of near abstract colour and form united within an almost prismatic compositional whole, it is an outstanding watercolour that marks in many ways the culmination of this coming-together of themes, styles and influences in Macke's work at this time and the startling fruition that suddenly took place during this brief but exciting and historic period.

'We are sitting here in the middle of the African landscape drawing and writing' Macke wrote home to his wife, Elizabeth, not long after they arrived in Tunisia. 'Klee is doing a watercolour (sketch included). This morning I've been running around the city working. Then by car - chicken ragout in the cooking box, sardine tins, beds etc. The Arabian servant Ahmed running after us like some racing driver. Two children, then to the country house of Dr Jägghi (sketch included) which is magnificently located right by the sea. We lay in the sun eating asparagus etc. All the time one can look around to see thousands of motifs. I must have done 50 sketches today. Yesterday 25. I'm working like the devil and I'm motivated in a way that I've never known before. The African landscape is far more beautiful than Provence. This I had never imagined. 200 paces away is a Bedouin camp with black tents, a herd of donkeys, camels and so on, running all around us. We will stay the night here. In Tunis I am living in the Grand Hotel de France. Louis and Klee at the Jägghis. Most evenings I eat at the Jägghis which is very nice. Yesterday we visited the different Arabian love quarters where women were both sitting and standing outside their doors in the sun. It was a marvelous sight...I believe I will bring a collossal amount of material home with me which in Bonn I can develop' (Macke 'Letter to Elizabeth Macke' quoted in G. Vriesen, August Macke, Stuttgart, 1957, p. 154).

Macke in fact brought home thirty-eight watercolours, more than a hundred drawings and a large number of photographs that he had taken. For practical reasons he had not taken oil paints but only a box of watercolours and it was essentially his suddenly blossoming mastery of this medium that has given rise to the legendary status now accorded the 'Tunisreise'. Oriental motifs can be found in Macke's work as early as 1910, though these are largely Orientalist-type works reflecting an idealized Western take on the mystic East as a sensual land of fairy-tales brimming over with riches. The reality of Tunisia proved ultimately far more inspiring for Macke who seems to have eagerly explored the narrow streets, markets, bazaars and cafés of Kaiouran, Tunis and St Germain with the insatiable curiosity of a child. Amidst the rich colours and patterns of the bazaars and souqs, and in the full glare of the harsh radiant light of the African sun, the quickly-drying medium of Macke's watercolours took on a radical boldness, simplicity and intensity that eminently suited the synchronistic aims of his painting.

Ever since reading Professor Willhelm Worringer's pioneering and highly influential thesis Abstraction and Empathy in 1912, Macke had sought to develop an art of synthesis and harmony between abstract and representational form, colour, composition and motif. The chief importance of Worringer's thesis for Macke, was that it laid an intellectual foundation for the development of abstract art by arguing that in essence all art was abstract and that 'abstract art', as the avant-garde had come to think of it, ultimately held equal significance to 'empathetic' art or the art of the mimetic representation of reality. Amidst the radiant colours, abstract patterns, sharply-drawn shadows and simplified forms of the Arab market places, it was in the watercolours that Macke made in Tunisia that he first managed to attain the harmonious equanimity or balance between both figurative motif and abstracted form and colour in his work that he had sought ever since first reading Worringer. In particular, it was in more complex and elaborate works such as Im Bazaar - works executed not directly from life but which are a more ambitious and measured composite of an entire sequence of studied views set into a carefully balanced composition - that these aims were realized. Fusing his admiration for Robert Delaunay's Orphist colour wheels and Cubism's pictorial break-up of form, Macke has here created a radiant and unique new language of pictorial form in which each clearly-defined, shape, colour, patterned or figurative form is a vibrant and autonomous jewel-like part of an harmonious and kaleidoscopic whole. The composite product of a number of quickly-drawn pencil sketches that Marc had made in the bazaars and marketplaces he visited, there is hardly a single line present in this composition. The entire painting is composed of radiant colourful blocks and shapes that collectively define an abstract world of colourful harmony at the very same time that they combine to give an image of a Kaiouran bazaar. Anticipating in this respect some of the later abstract watercolours of his friend Paul Klee, Macke's surety and unerring command of his medium is here combined with a stunning ability to construct an entire world with only the simplest and most direct of means.

As Macke's friend and Blaue Reiter colleague Franz Marc, who was himself to die in the war that killed Macke in September 1914, said of Macke: 'We painters know that without his harmonies, whole octaves of colour will disappear from German art, and the sounds of the colours remaining will become duller and sharper. 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, 'Eulogy to Macke' quoted in A. Meseure, op cit, 2000, p. 92).

More from Impressionist/Modern Evening Sale

View All
View All