Marcks, Gerhard

(1889-1981)
   sculptor and graphic artist; directed the ceramics studio at the Bauhaus.* He was born to a Berlin* grain merchant. His romantic bent led him into an antitechnology movement. Judging Wilhelmine culture shallow and pathetic, he aligned himself with the Neue Sezession artistic group. After studying with August Gaul and Georg Kolbe, opponents of the Kaiserreich's monumental style, he began sculpting animals. His circle of friends included the sculptor Richard Scheibe (with whom he served an apprenticeship), Lyonel Feininger,* and Walter Gropius.* His porcelain models were used by several firms, including Meissen and Schwarzburg, and in 1914 he provided figurative reliefs for buildings constructed by Gropius in his Cologne Werkbund exhibition.
   Already a war casualty in 1914, Marcks was assigned to East Prussia* to care for war cemeteries. Upon his return to Berlin in 1918, he joined the Novem-bergruppe* and participated in utopian efforts to build a new world through an Ethos der Form. His work began combining elements from Expressionism* and gothic style. Lured to the new Bauhaus by Gropius, he rejected Bruno Taut's* offer of a position at Berlin's Kunstgewerbeschule. He was among the Bauhaus's first instructors and directed the ceramics program until, disenchanted by a grow-ing emphasis on the interdependence of art and technology, he resigned in 1925. He then accepted a post with a Kunstgewerbeschule near Halle and became the school's director in 1930.
   Although Marcks created an abundance of sculptures in wood and clay, he turned, on the recommendation of Feininger, to realistic woodcut. Numbered with Kathe Kollwitz* and Ernst Barlach* among the Republic's premier sculp-tors, he was nonetheless dismissed in 1933. The NSDAP destroyed many of his works, and he was forbidden to exhibit those that remained (he was, however, allowed to work, and he won the Villa Massimo prize in 1934). Two of his pieces were included in the 1937 exhibition Entartete Kunst (Degenerate Art). Upon resettling in Berlin, he built his own studio in 1939; when it was destroyed by bombs in 1943, he lost much of his early work. After World War II he taught at Hamburg's Landeskunstschule and in 1947 finished a project begun by Bar-lach before 1933: six large figurines in the facade of the Katharinen Church in Lübeck. The work is judged his outstanding achievement. In 1952 he was awarded the Pour le Merite (Peace Class).
   REFERENCES:Barron, "Degenerate Art"; NDB, vol. 16; Neumann, Bauhaus; UCLA Art Galleries, Gerhard Marcks; Klaus Weber, Keramik und Bauhaus.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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