August Macke (1887-1914, German) born in Westphalia, Germany, the only son of a building contractor father who was an amateur artist, became one of the most influential Expressionists of the 20th century. His father played a large role in his becoming an artist, and in 1904, the year his father died, Macke enrolled in the Kunstakademie in Dusseldorf. From 1907 he lived an artist’s life in Bonn. He travelled to Paris where he studied both Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. In 1910, through his friendship with Franz Marc he met Wassily Kandinsky and joined the German Expressionist group Der Blaue Reiter. Macke travelled to Tunisia in 1914 with Paul Klee where he developed a ‘luminist’ approach. Just like Klee, his paintings primarily focus on emotions and moods rather than capturing objective reality. Macke was also influenced by Robert Delaunay’s chromatic Cubism.
Macke’s cat paintings, even though few, show a tenderness towards the animal. When the 21 year old Macke first painted Spirit of the House, Still Life with Cat his mother commented that his images were lifeless, so he added the cat which animated the picture. The Calico’s seemingly self-satisfied contentment as it curls its tail up and around the table steals the show. Macke is said to have commented that a cat makes every picture cheerful.
Unfortunately, Macke was killed in only the second month of WWI in 1914. Ironically, his final painting was entitled Farewell.