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Exhibition in Bonn features the journeys August Macke undertook during his brief life
A woman looks at the painting 'Turkish Jewel-Trader' by German painter August Macke at the August Macke Haus in Bonn, Germany. The August Macke Haus in Bonn has for the first time curated an exhibition taking a look at the many travels and voyages of the painter August Macke. EPA/OLIVER BERG.

BONN.- To help mark the 125th birthday of August Macke (1887 – 1914) the August Macke Haus for the first time highlights his extensive travels. The fascination of the unknown and search for new creative impulses have for centuries caused artists to travel far and wide. August Macke was no exception and embarked on a number of trips to satisfy his curiosity and to experience at first hand beautiful regions and cities rich in culture. Although he only lived to the age of 27, he traveled to many different countries in his short life; beginning in 1904 he undertook at least one trip every year.

His first study trips took the young student to the Rhine and into Germany's hilly Eifel region. He twice traveled to Italy, the classic destination of Europeans seeking to complete their education, and he engaged in an artistic discourse with masterpieces of past ages in several Northern Italian cities: in 1905 in the company of his friend and later brother-in-law Walter Gerhardt and in 1908 accompanied by his sweetheart Elisabeth and her uncle Bernhard Koehler. He traveled to the Netherlands and Belgium on several occasions to spend seaside vacations and, in particular, to further his art education.

He also traveled to Europe's most important centers of the time: London and Paris. Here, too, museums and art galleries stood at the top of his list of sites to visit. Fascinated by big-city flair and bustle, he absorbed all of the impressions of the urban centers and re-worked them into his art on canvas and paper. Above all Paris, the leading center of avant-garde art movements at the beginning of the 20th century, kept offering the aspiring artist fresh inspiration for his own work on his four visits there in 1907, 1908, 1909, and 1912. These trips gave him the opportunity to meet like-minded artists such as Robert Delaunay and to make contact with collectors and gallerists.

August Macke's last and most famous journey was to Tunisia in April 1914. The orient-enthusiast was accompanied by Swiss artists Paul Klee and Louis Moilliet only a few months before his death in the fighting of the first World War. It was Macke's first time outside Europe. He immersed himself in the foreign culture and landscapes, in the new visual impressions of light and color.

An important aspect of nearly all of Macke's trips was also his enjoyment of vacations in the carefree company of good friends and family and of taking part in an intellectual exchange with his companions. His journeys were not necessarily undertaken at his own initiative. They frequently derived from the coincidental plans or contacts by members of his family or friends, or were made possible by wealthy patrons from the artist's private circle of acquaintances

The Exhibition presents numerous pieces by August Macke associated with his travels, above all drawings and watercolors, as well as some paintings done during the trips. They reflect the landscapes, motifs, and artistic designs that particularly captured his interest and inspired his work. They are supplemented by documents, letters, and post cards written to family and friends by Macke and his companions during the trips, as well as historic post cards and travel guides that illustrate the artist's destinations and give us the chance to accompany the travelers on their journeys.

Including works on loan from, among others: Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden; Kunstmuseum Bonn; Kunsthalle Bremen – Kupferstichkabinett – Der Kunstverein in Bremen; Leopold-Hoesch-Museum Düren; Erbengemeinschaft Richard W. Koehler; LWL – Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte Westfälisches Landesmuseum, Münster.

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