Franz and Maria Marc moved to Ried in 1914. Maria Marc lived there until her death in 1955. This photograph was taken in 1908 in Lenggries. © Deutsches Kunstarchiv (German Art Archive)
They were more than just the women at the side of great artists. The Franz Marc Museum in Kochel now brings visitors closer to Maria Marc and Elisabeth Macke.
Kochel am See/Ried – This summer, the Franz Marc Museum in Kochel is hosting a special exhibition about the married couple August and Elisabeth Macke. It is a cooperation with the LWL Museum of Art and Culture in Münster. Funding from the "Franz Dieter and Michaela Kaldewei Cultural Foundation" makes it possible for the show to come to Kochel and be expanded to include a number of aspects, namely with a focus on the portraits that August Macke painted and drew of his wife. It is also about the relationship with Franz and Maria Marc. Not only were the couples close friends, but the women also shared a similar fate.
Widows administered the estate of August Macke and Franz Marc
August Macke and Franz Marc both belonged to the artist group of the Blue Rider. The two painters were killed in the First World War. Macke died in 1914, Marc in 1916. When the news of Franz Marc's death came, Maria Marc was with Elisabeth Macke and her young sons in Bonn.
The friendship between the two couples had begun in 1910 at Lake Tegernsee, where the Mackes, newly married, stayed for a few months. Franz Marc became the godfather of Walter Macke, who was born there. In the years leading up to the outbreak of the First World War, the four of them corresponded in many ways or met for exchange, often at Gabriele Münter's house in Murnau. After the death of their husbands, the two widows became administrators of the estate. The way they went about it was very different, but very successful in each case.
Franz Marc Museum in Kochel sheds light on Elisabeth Macke's role
In the new exhibition at the Marc Museum, visitors first learn a lot about the relationship between August and Elisabeth Macke. The two met as teenagers. Elisabeth was a muse and model for her husband. There are over 200 portraits. "You can also see August Macke's artistic development in them," says Diana Oesterle. The art historian, former director of the museum in Penzberg with the Campendonk Collection, is a research assistant at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and curates the new compilation of the Macke exhibition in Kochel.
"The role that Elisabeth played in her artistic career beyond the muse and the model has hardly been noticed so far," says Cathrin Klingsöhr-Leroy, director of the Franz Marc Museum. Elisabeth Macke was a talented networker, herself artistically active and later a clever executor of her estate.
August Macke and his wife Elisabeth with their sons Walter and Wolfgang. The picture was taken in Bonn in 1913. Franz Marc was Walter's godfather. © August Macke House
The exhibition from Münster will be supplemented by some works from the Kochler Museum's holdings as well as new loans. For example, there is an important painting from the Lenbachhaus (Elisabeth Macke portrays with apples from 1909) as well as the 1912 design for the painting of a tapestry that now hangs in the Federal Chancellery.
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Elisabeth Macke and Maria Marc were in contact throughout their lives
A new aspect of the exhibition is the way in which Maria Marc and Elisabeth Macke managed the estate after the death of their husbands. "For both women, the loss of their partner was a drastic experience that changed their lives from the ground up," writes Klingsöhr-Leroy in the exhibition catalogue. "It was clear to both of them that they were inheriting an inheritance that imposed on them the obligation to cultivate the memory of August Macke and Franz Marc and to deal responsibly with the works they had left behind." Thanks to a good network and prudent decisions, they have succeeded in preserving the works that were considered "degenerate" during the Nazi era and securing them for posterity. The two women were in contact throughout their lives. When Elisabeth, who had remarried two years after the death of her husband and had three more children, had to flee from the bombing in Berlin in 1943, she was accommodated for some time with Maria Marc in Ried.
The two women were also united by an interest in handicraft and artistic work, for example in the field of embroidery and weaving. While it was not absolutely necessary for Elisabeth Erdmann-Macke, who came from wealthy circles, the financial aspect was essential for Maria Marc. Maria Marc died in 1955, Elisabeth Erdmann-Macke in 1978.
The exhibition, titled "August and Elisabeth Macke: The Painter and the Manager," opens on Sunday, June 11, and runs until September 17. There will be no extension. Accompanying events: On July 11, there will be an online lecture in which the curators from Münster will talk about materials research on August Macke's work, and on July 15 there will be a reading from letters from the Macke family.
You can find even more up-to-date news from the region at Merkur.de/Bad Tölz.