extended until February 18, 2024

Hans Thuar & August Macke

The exhibition focuses on the life and work of two expressionist artists, bound together by a moving friendship. The two neighbors Hans Thuar and August Macke are nine and ten years old when they become friends. They share not only an enthusiasm for wild games in the housing developments along Cologne‘s periphery but are also fascinated by the Japanese woodcuts in Thuar‘s father‘s print  collection. Thuar remembers that „We wild, wild boys sat in front of those unbelievably subtle sheets of rice paper [...] and were excited, shaken, and humbled to an extent beyond any church experience.“

A year later, when Thuar loses both legs in a streetcar accident, it is August  Macke who with his contagious humor restores his friend‘s interest in  living. „That was when he invented caricature sketching, I had to laugh,  I was supposed to laugh no matter what!“ Their friendship remains unbroken even after the Macke family moves to Bonn. The two decide to become artists. But aren‘t satisfied with the traditional course of studies at Düsseldorf‘s art academy. They develop a highly expressive style of painting in strong colors and, with their works, join the ranks of the fiercely opposed expressionist modernists prior to the first world war. „Creating an extremely lively feeling (Macke)“ – is their goal.  While Macke searches for his ideal of earthly paradise, Thuar‘s work  reflects his existential relationship to nature. 
After brief but close collaboration in Bonn, Macke‘s early death on the  battlefield during the first world war impacts Thuar to such a degree that he ends all artistic endeavors. When he begins to paint again at the  beginning of the 1920s, magnificent, highly expressive, entirely original compositions result - „bursting at the seams of expressiveness,“ as judged  by August Macke‘s son Wolfgang. Meanwhile, inflation and economic  crisis bring the family of five down almost to the poverty line. And Thuar‘s physical impairments gnaw on his mental outlook. 

Artistic handcrafts, self-developed salves and creams, the operation of a filling station and a café, and the opening of a shop help make ends meet. But it is the large circle of friends, to whom Macke‘s widow and her two sons belong, that give him the needed inspiration. When Macke‘s son Wolfgang marries Thuar‘s daughter Gisela at Christmas 1937, the two  artist families finally merge. Soon thereafter, together with Wolfgang and Gisela, Thuar undertakes his first trip in 25 years and visits Franz Marc‘s widow Maria in Upper Bavaria. Thuar captures the impressive Alpine land-scapes in abstractive and expressive brush strokes onto canvas. 
The exhibition and catalog, executed by Ina Ewers-Schultz, trace for the first time this unique artist friendship. They spotlight the artist Thuar,  whose work has unjustly nearly been forgotten. The special relationship  of the two expressionists is shown by illustrator Yuka Masuko in a short story she has created in the style of a graphic novel especially for the  exhibition – on the basis of memoirs and excerpts from letters.


You can download the flyer for the special exhibition BEST FRIENDS. Hans Thuas & August Macke here.


A catalog will be published for the exhibition at the museum ticket office at a price of € 24.90.







The exhibition is sponsored by the Sparkasse KölnBonn,
the Rudolf Klefisch-Stiftung, the C. Gerhardt GmbH & Co. KG
and the Carl Knauber Holding GmbH & Co. KG.