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Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

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London

August Macke
1887 - 1914
BEGRÜSSUNG (GREETING)
watercolour on paper
31.8 by 26.5cm.
12 1/2 by 10 3/8 in.
Executed in 1913.
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Provenance

Matthias Rech, Bonn (probably acquired from the estate of the artist in April 1936)

Marianne Storp, Bonn (acquired by 1957)

Sale: Galerie Kornfeld, Bern, 20th June 1997, lot 81

Private Collection, USA (purchased at the above sale)

Acquired from the above by the present owner

Exhibited

Bielefeld, Städtisches Kunsthaus, Macke, Aquarell-Ausstellung, 1957, no. 275, illustrated in the catalogue

Literature

Gustav Vriesen, August Macke, Stuttgart, 1957, no. 275, illustrated p. 287

Janice Mary McCullagh, August Macke and the Vision of Paradise: An Iconographic Analysis, PhD Dissertation, The University of Texas, Austin, 1980, mentioned p. 108

Ursula Heiderich, August Macke, Aquarelle, Werkverzeichnis, Ostfildern-Ruit, 1997, no. 383, illustrated p. 311; illustrated in colour p. 112

Catalogue Note

Begrüssung belongs to a group of watercolours and oils Macke created in 1913, depicting figures standing or strolling in the park (fig. 1). In addition to the two central figures standing on a balcony, the present composition is enlivened by a gentleman in the lower left who is gesturing with his hat and walking stick, as well as by two figures riding past in a horse-drawn carriage. During 1913, Macke’s painting gradually moved away from the nearly abstract, geometrically inspired compositions and adopted a new softness and a free-flowing style visible in Begrüssung. Colour became the single most important element of his art, and in the present work the soft brushstrokes of blue in the foreground and sky create a dynamic contrast with the denser colouration of the lush greens and pale red in the rest of the composition. In 1913 Macke wrote: ‘The most important thing for me is the direct observation of nature in its light-filled existence […]. What I most cherish is the observation of the movement of colours. Only in this have I found the laws of those simultaneous and complementary colour 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’ (quoted in G. Vriesen, op. cit., p. 120, translated from German).

 

The present work also reflects a major theme in Macke’s art – city-dwellers in green spaces that bring the natural world into an urban environment – and the balanced composition is typical of Macke’s lyricism and the sense of harmony between man and nature that he evokes in his work. Barry Herbert comments: ‘Macke’s work was a constant reaffirmation of his unaffected delight in this earthly paradise of which he found himself to be a part, and in his paintings he recorded its small, apparently insignificant, moments of pleasure with a penetration and tender eye for the underlying currents of feeling that made them memorable […]. In them it is as if all worldly cares have been temporarily laid aside, self-consciousness has been forgotten, and these men and women once again experience something like their former state of innocence’ (B. Herbert, German Expressionism. Die Brücke and Der Blaue Reiter, London, 1983, pp. 148-149).

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

|
London