Meschede 1887 - 1914 Perthes-les-Hurlus
Sitzender Akt II
Watercolour and gouache on white transparent paper. 32 x 27 cm. Framed under glass. Faded estate stamp verso lower right and dated and titled "Sitzender Akt" in pencil. - Minimal marginal defects. Partially with minute loss of colour within flesh tones. Colours extremely fresh.
Heiderich 158; Vriesen 176
Estate August Macke; Kunstsalon Änne Abels, Cologne (label verso); Private collection, Munich (since 1957)
Hannover 1935 (Kestner-Gesellschaft), August Macke, cat. no. 73 ?; Bielefeld 1957 (Städtisches Kunsthaus), Macke. Aquarell-Ausstellung, cat. no. 176, illus. p. 26
August Macke has developed the watercolour offered here entirely out of the colour. The female figure is realised in a reddish brown contour line, the pink flesh tones switch over into a brownish orange in the areas of shadow and highlights are inserted through isolated details in light green. The same light green as well as a deep dark blue are the defining colours of the surrounding space; however, at the bottom it also takes up the pink and red-orange of the nude. Through the complementary contrasts of the colours used, the nude figure placed in the centre of the image is invested with particular emphasis and is optically pulled further into the foreground; by contrast, the presence of the surrounding space recedes.
The spatial effects that Robert Delaunay had developed through the use of colour in his work made a great impression on Macke. In 1912 the contact between the two artists became more intense and inspired August Macke to carry out similar experiments with colour. “'Without chiaroscuro Delaunay works the chromatically contrasting groups into one another (or perhaps it would be better to say: he works them out of one another, but into a unity) in such a way that a vigorous movement forward and backward develops in his paintings.' […] As described by Macke, the energy of the colours - their gradations and contrasts, their luminosity, their moderation, their contiguity and their interpenetration - causes the colours to optically advance and recede, and impressions of the clearly differentiated are linked with those of unity” (Erich Franz, in: August Macke und die frühe Moderne in Europa, exhib. cat. Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte Münster/Kunstmuseum Bonn 2001/2002, p. 20).
The natural forms of the surrounding space have been inserted by way of curved and circular forms, but cannot be more precisely defined. They have an ornamental quality of a kind that is often to be found in Macke's watercolours of this period, for example, in the “Liegender weiblicher Akt” of the same year (Heiderich 155). Macke also created purely ornamental, abstract compositions in 1911 and 1912, in the course of his occupation with contemporary abstract works by Kandinsky.
The same nude featuring stronger modelling within the figure, but with the surroundings left unelaborated, also exists as a pencil drawing from the same year (“Studie zum 'Roten Akt'”; Heiderich Zeichnungen 1100).