Gerhard Marcks


Illustration, sculpture, woodcuts, industrial design. Born Gerhard Wilhelm Albert Marcks 18 February 1889 in Berlin. A self-taught designer although he saw himself primarily as a sculptor. 1907: studied sculpture with August Gaul and Georg Kolbe. 1911: worked at the Schwarzburger Porcelain Works. 1914-18: military service. 1918-19: taught at the Berlin Kunstgewerbeschule. 1919-25: taught ceramics at the Weimar Bauhaus (until its move to Dessau). 1923-5: head of the Bauhaus pottery workshop (Töpferwerkstatt), Dornburg. 1925-33: taught ceramics at the Burg Giebichenstein Kunstgewerbeschule, Halle (and director from 1928-33). 1928: awarded Villa Romana Prize.

January 1933: protested at the dismissal by the Nazis of his co-teacher (and his ex-student) Marguerite Friedländer-Wildenhain because she was Jewish. As a result Marcks himself was dismissed on 30 September 1933; he was not employed again until 1945. 1935: awarded Villa Massimo Prize. 1936: works in Olympic Art Exhibition. July 1937: two works in ‘Entartete Kunst’ (Degenerate art) exhibition, Munich; officially, he was forbidden to exhibit further although his work later appeared in several group exhibitions in pre-war Germany.

‘It appears that though the Nazis condemned all of his earlier works, they hesitated to enforce their threat to prohibit him from working at all. Marcks even entered the competition for public commissions…’. (Peter Guenther, p. 296 in Barron, 1991; see below)

1939-43: Marcks had a studio in Berlin-Nikolassee. January 1943: son Herbert died on Russian front. August 1943: his Berlin foundry and gallery destroyed in bombing raids with loss of many of his sculptures. 22 November 1943: his house and studio destroyed in bombing raid. ‘The strength Gerhard Marcks has summoned up remains almost incomprehensible. Not only has his son fallen, but all his work has been destroyed; everything is gone and yet the man starts a new life.’ (Käthe Kollwitz, 21 February 1944, quoted in Kaethe Kollwitz, 1988)

Marcks was reinstated at war’s end, and lectured 1946-50 at the Hamburg Landeskunstschule, then settled in Cologne. October 1945: design of postage stamps for Mecklenburg. Much of his work was published by Richard von Sichowsky’s Grillen-Presse. Marcks took part in numerous exhibitions, from the Berlin Secession of 1909 onwards, and many post-war international exhibitions. He was awarded many honours including the Goethe Medal of the City of Frankfurt a.M., 1949; Wiesbaden Cultural Prize, 1953; North Rhine-Westphalia Art Prize, 1954. 1955: elected member of the Akademie der Künste, Berlin. 1969: the Gerhard Marcks Stiftung (Foundation) formed in Bremen. Died 13 November 1981 in Burgbrohl/Eifel.

Writings by

  • Briefe an Ernest Rathenau, Stuttgart: E. Hauswedell, 1984
  • Bauhaus Week letter in Hans M. Wingler, The Bauhaus, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1969
  • ‘Wie kam ich zur Tiergestaltung’, Bildende Kunst, 1955, 1, pp. 31-3
  • Durchs dunkle Deutschland. Gerhard Marcks – Briefwechsel 1933-80 (Jens Semrau, ed.), Leipzig: Seemann, 1995.
  • Walter Amstutz (ed.), Who’s Who in Graphic Art, Zurich: Amstutz & Herdeg Graphis Press, 1962. , 1962

Writings about

    1948-57: Erich Vogt, ‘Gerhard Marcks’, Bildende Kunst, 1948, 7, pp. 23-5 Frank Thiess, ‘Gerhard Marcks – Ein Bildhauer von europäischer Grösse’, Thema, v. III, 1949, pp. 29-36 (reproductions of his sculptures and wood engravings throughout the journal) Günter Busch, ‘Gerhard Marcks. Recent woodcuts’, Graphis 48, 1953, pp. 323-9
  • Hellmut Lehmann-Haupt, Art under a dictatorship, New York: Oxford U.P., 1954
  • Kurt Dingelstedt, ‘Anmerkungen zur Tätigkeit der Grillen-Presse zu Hamburg’, Imprimatur, 1954/55, pp. 163-7 (includes bibliography of the Press) plus 4-page inset
  • Waldemar Grzimek, ‘Über Gerhard Marcks und seine Tierplastiken’, Bildende Kunst, 1955, 1, pp. 40-43
  • Vollmer, 1956 (prizes, exhibitions, bibliography)
  • Wolf Stubbe, ‘Drucke der Grillen-Presse’, Philobiblon, Feb. 1957, pp. 39-46
  • Helga Weissgärber, ‘Arbeiten von Gerhard Marcks in Köln’, Bildende Kunst 11, 1957, pp. 785-7
  • 1958-88: Richard Hiepe, ‘Abkapslung von der Wirklichkeit’ (Hamburg memorial sculpture), Bildende Kunst, 1958, 3, pp. 173-6 Judith Bergmann, ‘Der Tradition Verpflichtet’ (Marcks exh.), Bildende Kunst, 1958, 8, pp. 544-8
  • Gerhard Marcks, Skulpturen, Handzeichnungen, Druckgraphik (exh. cat.), Berlin: National-Galerie, 1958
  • Adolf Rieth, Gerhard Marcks, Recklinghausen: Bongers, 1959
  • Kurt Sternelle, ‘Gerhard Marcks 70 Jahre alt’, Die Weltkunst, 1 March 1959, pp. 5-6
  • Adolf Rieth, ‘Gerhard Marcks – Werke der letzten Jahre’, Die Kunst und das schöne Heim, May 1960, pp. 284-7
  • Gerhard Marcks, Skulpturen, Handzeichnungen, Druckgraphik (exh. cat.), Berlin: National-Galerie, 1968
  • Dietrich Steinert and Reinhard Vahlen, ‘Erbe und Verpflichtung’ (industrial design), Bildende Kunst, 1969, pp. 64-8
  • Peter H. Feist, ‘Die Kraft der Stille’ (GM’s 80 th birthday), Bildende Kunst, 1969, pp. 74-7
  • Jean Joseph Keller, ‘Atelierbesuch bei Gerhard Marcks’, Graphische Kunst, 10/1, 1978, pp. 28-32
  • Gerhard Marcks (exh. cat.), Düsseldorf: Galerie Alex Vömel, 1978
  • Ludwig Veit and others, Dokumente zu Leben und Werk des Bildhauers und Graphikers Gerhard Marcks (exh. cat.), Nuremberg: Germanisches Nationalmuseum, 1979
  • Ursula Frenzel (ed.), Gerhard Marcks/Briefe und Werke, Munich: Prestel, 1988 (for Archiv für Bildende Kunst im Germanischen Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg
  • chronological biography of GM’s life and work)
  • 1989-present: Martina Rudloff (ed.), Gerhard Marcks (exh. cat.), Munich: Hirmer, c1989 (includes bibliographical references)
  • M. Rudloff, ‘100 Jahre Gerhard Marcks’, Kulturberichte, 1/1989 K. Weber, ‘Gerhard Marcks am Bauhaus’, Kulturberichte, 1/1989 U. Frenzel, ‘Der schriftliche Nachlass von Gerhard Marcks’, Kulturberichte, 1/1989
  • Andreas Hüneke, ‘“Marcks kann lachen”. Die Burg-Zeit des Bildhauers Gerhard Marcks’, in Renate Luckner-Bien (ed.), 75 Jahre Burg Giebichenstein, Leipzig: Anderson Nexö
  • Marcks und Bildhauer seiner Zeit (exh. cat.), Düsseldorf: Galerie Vömel, 1989
  • Anita Beloubek-Hammer, ‘”…die letzte Mode habe ich natürlich wieder verpasst”’, Bildende Kunst, 1989, 12, pp. 46-8
  • Kurt Lemmek, Gerhard Marcks – Das druckgraphische Werk, Stuttgart: Hauswedell & Co., 1990
  • Ruth R. Kath, with Lawrence J. Thornton, The letters of Gerhard Marcks and Marguerite Wildenhain, 1970-81, Iowa State University Press, 1991
  • SB, 1991, esp. pp. 296-7
  • M. Rudloff, with Cornelius Steckner, Gerhard Marcks und Charles Crodel, eine Künstlerfreundschaft, 1921-33, Bremen: Gerhard Marcks-Stiftung, 1992 (includes bibliographical references)
  • Katja Schneider, Burg Giebichenstein. Die Kunstgewerbeschule unter der Leitung von Paul Thiersch und Gerhard Marcks 1915 bis 1933, Weinheim: VCH, 1992 (extensive listing of GM’s exhibitions and bibliography)
  • Jens Semrau, Durchs dunkle Deutschland. Gerhard Marcks, Briefwechsel 1933 bis 1980, Leipzig: E.A. Seemann, 1995
  • BDE, 1997 (includes bibliography)
  • Martin Papenbrock, ‘Gerhard Marcks: Der Gefesselte. Mahnmal für Osnabruck (1964)’, in Symbole des Friedens und der Krieges im öffentlichen Raum (Jutta Held, ed.), Weimar: VDG, 1998, pp. 231-46
  • Benezit, 2006 (includes auction records 1965-2004).
  • Anton Sailer, ‘“Aesop”, woodcuts by Gerhard Marcks’, Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., July 1950, pp. 18-21


  • Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, 1979
  • New Burlington Galleries, London, 1938
  • documenta, Kassel, 1955 (4 items)
  • Cologne Kunstvereins, 1957
  • National-Galerie, Berlin, 1958
  • Galerie R. Hoffmann, Hamburg, 1959
  • Wallraf Richartz Museum, Cologne, 1964
  • Musée Rodin, Paris, 1971
  • Bauhaus-Archiv, Berlin, Dec. 1981/April 1982 and 1986
  • Josef-Haubrich-Kunsthalle, Cologne (and to Nationalgalerie, Berlin, and Gerhard Marcks-Haus, Bremen), 1989
  • Galerie Vömel, Düsseldorf, 1989
  • Pavlovsk Palace Museum, St Petersburgh, and Staatliche Galerie, Moritzburg, Halle/Saale, 1993
  • Gerhard-Marcks-Haus, Bremen, 1996
  • Galerie Dorn, Stuttgart, 1999.


  • Gerhard Marcks-Haus, Bremen
  • Klingspor Museum, Offenbach a.M..