In the Elysian Fields with August Macke

Ahhh, the good August Macke! Highly receptible as he was, he refuted Kandinsky´s intellectualism, and the Ideenmalerei (of the Blue Rider) in general. In his short life he resonated to all the stylistic and intellectual tendencies and the new developments in art in this extremely vivid era (at the turn of the 20th century), he approached them all and experimented with and included them all. As a true genius he paved his own way. His objection to Ideenmalerei was marked, but not outspoken and aggressive. His temperament was not like that. He had a pleasant personality. Instead of being overly intellectual and intellectualised, he was interested in the sensual pleasures of colour and in the melodious sound of form. He was attracted to earthly beauty. His endeavour was to paint people in paradise.

See how his people seemingly float through the Garden of Eden! You usually see them a bit from behind, or their faces are (relatively) empty. They have lost their individuality, they have evaded the personality principle. They have left behind what is bad and what seperates us from each other and from the direct contact to nature, and to beauty (commonly referred to as the „ego“).

A friend of mine, Tanja, who teaches children how to dance said to me: in order to get children to like you, and that they accept your authority, you have to call them by their names, and adress them personally. Indeed, people are very fond of that. Evil leaders give the lead the impression that they do (that they personally adress people), and usually it works, and then they can do whatever they want. In the ficticious Q Continuum (from the Star Trek series), the nearly omnipotent, god-like Q, who are referred to as the highest point of evolution, have NO names and obviously do not place any importance on having names. In Macke´s paradise, his floaters also seem to have left that behind. – It is true that Macke´s floaters through paradise don´t seem to really notice the beauty of their surroundings (often they just look down and seem to have a limited, egocentric, purely functional perspective), but let us say it is a reference to the real world, let us say they are occupied with their inner processes which are of a higher nature, let us say they´re simply at one with their surroundings, and let us say we do not actually understand it and we should just celebrate it.

Look at how Macke´s young women are attracted to hats, clothes, boutiques! Some say, this is evil, and mistake it for evil. I, however, have always resonated a lot when someone has bought a new thing – a mobile phone, for example – and then sits in the park, unpacks it and gets immersed into it, tries it out, tries to get into contact with it and to handle it. I like this because this person has made herself happy and is happily curious. This is the best part of the human experience! I say, anyone unable to resonate to that, very likely has very shitty mirror neurons, and no empathy – fuck that. Macke´s woman Before the Hat Shop has cleared her individuality and resonates (in a sovereign way) to the hat she might like. Practically everything that is good about humanity is in that painting.

Macke was a master of colour. His colours are contrasting, but not in an aggressive way. Rather, you have an emphasis on the colourfulness of nature. Macke was a master of illustrating the gracefulness of form. It can be said that Macke´s most personal style which evolved in his later years is set in the continuum between absolute geometric clarity and impressionistic dissolution. Macke managed the conflict between individualisation and generalisation, he managed the objectification of the subjective, and the subjectification of the objective. This is never a trivial problem in art, and was not a trivial problem at his time. In doing so, Macke navigated his way through the probably deepest intellectual problem of art.

August Macke had a very pleasant, charming, optimistic personality. Unlike many other artists he did not particularly display quasi-depressive ruminativeness and getting lost in one´s own inner complexity. Although an idiosyncratic outsider, he was not an isolated loner. He liked high life but did not succumb to alcoholism, drugs, or other shit. He remained an innocent hedonist. He found his sweethart, Elisabeth, at a young age, and they lived a happy marriage. He loved to go to the theater, the cinema, the circus, he loved all things horseplay and slapstick and felt especially attracted to clowns. He reportedly was always moved to tears when he was watching a scene in which a woman was miserable.

August Macke died at age 27 in Perthes-lès-Hulus in the Champagne on Sept. 26th, 1914, in the Great War. In his letters he depicted the horrors of war, but he did not display resentment. Maybe because he always was actually inhabing the Elysian Fields. He is buried in a mass grave at a soldier´s cemetary in Souain. In the obituary Franz Marc mourned Macke´s transformation as an irredeemable loss, with no one ever being able to continue alongside this specific trajectory. Soon thereafter the two friends reconciled in the Valhalla.