Franz Marc, August Macke and Robert Delaunay: In a unique gathering of extraordinary paintings and works on paper, the Sprengel Museum
Hannover will show the exhibition Marc, Macke und Delaunay. The Beauty of a Fragile World (19101914) from 29 March through 19 July 2009.
The exhibition focuses on a brief but intense phase in the lives of the three artists prior to the First World War and traces the various stages of the impact they had on each others' works. Franz Marc (1880-1916) und August Macke (1887-1914), who were both killed in the First World War, produced their lifework in the space of only four years, while Robert Delaunay (1885-1941) sketched out the main lines of his future oeuvre in this time.
Franz Marc and August Macke met for the first time in 1910 in Munich. Macke saw some of Marc's drawings at the Galerie Brakl. He was enthusiastic and visited Marc shortly thereafter in his studio. This first encounter was the start of an intense friendship between artists. They travelled together to Paris in October 1912 and met Delaunay, with whose pictures they were already very familiar with. The "window pictures" they saw there for the first time were the impetus for lively dealings with the fragmentation and the faceting of form as well as with simultaneous contrast.
Although their personal relationships differed in intensity because they moved about much, had only limited financial means for travel, had to overcome language barriers and the level of mutual empathy also fluctuated, all three artists were united by one common theme, namely that of light, its fragmentation and its concomitant energizing and heightening of colour. With complementary and simultaneous colour contrasts of ever increasing subtlety, they produced works that activated the viewer's eye through their sheer vitality and vibrancy. And whilst each of the three artists held the works of the others in high esteem, they all developed their own individual approach and style.
In the described constellation, Robert Delaunay can be seen as the model and instigator. He occupied himself most deeply und strikingly with the phenomenon of coloured facetings for which the poet Guillaume Apollinaire coined the term 'Orphism'. Using the motif of light-refracting windowpanes, Delaunay would explore the states of tension and relaxation between dissonant and consonant, complementary and non-complementary colours. It was in his "Window Paintings", which had "simultaneous seeing" itself as their theme, that real objects disappeared almost completely.
August Macke met Robert Delaunay in Paris in 1912. His admiration for the French painter had already been triggered earlier by a painting of the Eiffel Tower of 1910/11, which had been reproduced in the "Der Blaue Reiter" almanac. This first meeting not only led to a very close friendship between the two men and their families but also to an extremely stimulating and productive debate on questions of art that would find expression in a lively correspondence that would influence three phases of Macke's development as a painter: his shop-window paintings, his abstract paintings and his colour circles.
Macke had hitherto reflected upon the constructional and dynamic effect of colours primarily in his conversations and correspondence with Franz Marc. Marc, too, was able to share Macke's new friendship with Delaunay and, for his part, developed in his famous animal paintings those rhythmical colour chords that symbolized the spirituality of animals and things. Delaunay's influence on Marc's work is particularly noticeable from 1912: After visiting Paris, Marc very manifestly employed die faceting of the picture surface as a sign of increased transcendency in his animal motifs. And then, after September 1913, when the three artists met again for a second time, this time in Berlin, he experimented with the circular formations in his pictures that Delaunay had presented for the first time at the "Sturm Gallery" at that time.
This exchange of ideas and influences between the three protagonists would not have come about, nor would it have thrived so well, without the kind help and support of numerous friends, acquaintances, critics and collectors, all of whom were able to mediate not only between the artists' different approaches but also between countries and languages. Most worthy of mention is, above all, Sonia Delaunay, who by dint of her origins knew no cultural or language barriers and not only cultivated a multitude of contacts but was also a recognized artist in her own right. But there were others, too, not least Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky and the members of "Der Blaue Reiter", as well as women from the circle of the Russian avantgarde, such as Elisabeth Ivanovna Epstein, Alexandra Exter and Natalia Goncharova, and such celebrated collectors as Bernhard Koehler. It is to these intermediaries of the exchange between Franz Marc, August Macke and Robert Delaunay that a part of the exhibition will be devoted.