03.10.2021 – 16.01.2021

A modern Classic

In the mid 1970s Scottish artist Douglas Swan (1930–2000) began living in Bonn where he worked in the immediate vicinity of August Macke's former home and studio. For 90th anniversary of Douglas Swan's birth the August Macke House Museum is honouring him with the first major retrospective of his work.

After studying at the College of Art in Scottish Dundee, Swan worked for some time in London and Bath with prominent artist William Scott. Under Scott's influence, Swan's work showed a closeness to Gestural painting, features of which would remain characteristic in his pictures up to the mid 1960s. 

In 1958 Swan embarked on a study tour of Italy where he came into contact with representatives of the Italian avant-garde. In Milan in 1966 he began to paint object pictures. He painted highly stylised persons, everyday articles, and geometric forms on monochromatic colour planes or, after cutting them from a sheet, painted and mounted them as assemblage compositions
After a successful exhibition in the Kunstmuseum Bochum in 1967, where he made the acquaintance of his future life-partner Barbara Kückels, the artist moved to Germany and ultimately settled in Bonn. He also routinely worked at his parental home in Scotland where he painted numerous scenes from the country's coastal landscape.

With his "AIR" paintings the Swan developed a unique stylistic technique in 1970 by which he repeated parts of a pictorial image on a transparent surface made of synthetic material affixed only a few centimetres above the painting's background. Forms and outlines cast shadows upon the painted surface, thus creating a new picture and enriching the work by adding another image level.


You can download the flyer for the special exhibition Douglas Swan here.


A comprehensive catalog will be published for the exhibition at the museum ticket office at a price of € 17.80.

Douglas Swan, 1980er Jahre
© Douglas Swan-Stiftung

Douglas Swan increasingly refined the method of repeating and varying rendered objects in his pictures. He also included principles of musical composition, such as sonata and fugue structures, in his designs and applied them in some of his works in the 1980s, varying the masterpieces of famous artists such as Jan Vermeer and August Macke. In the 1990s Swan produced works highlighting the music of famous composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven.

Douglas Swan's impressive oeuvre spans the second half of the twentieth century. Ever conscious of his Scottish and Celtic roots, he was also strongly integrated into Germany's art scene. In the light of their high artistic quality and artistic validity, the best works of Douglas Swan can be classified as timeless – and in this sense he is a modern classic.

Curator: Dr. Axel Wendelberger


The exhibition is sponsored by Dr. Til Macke, the LVR Landschaftsverband Rheinland
and the Stiftung Kunst der Sparkasse in Bonn.