Gerhard Marcks’s life was sculpture, ceramics and woodcuts. As master of form, he set established the ceramics workshop at the Bauhaus. It was under his artistic direction that experimental ceramic containers and – as the technological leap came – the first prototypes for serial production were created.
In 1907, Marcks began to teach himself to sculpt. His first endeavours were guided by the artists August Gaul and Gerhard Kolbe. From 1908 to 1912, he shared a studio in Berlin with the sculptor Richard Scheibe. Marcks was represented at the Berlin Secession with two works. In 1914, two stone reliefs by Marcks based on a design by Walter Gropius were placed at the entrance to the machine hall for the Deutscher Werkbund (German Work Federation) exhibition in Cologne. After completing his military service, he went on to work for the Märkische Kunstwerkstätten (Vordamm art workshops) of the Velten-Vordamm stoneware factories in 1917/18 and joined the state porcelain manufacturer Meissen a year later. In late 1918, Bruno Paul appointed him to teach the sculpture class at the Staatliche Kunstgewerbeschule (school of applied arts) in Berlin.
In 1919, Walter Gropius appointed Marcks as one of the first masters of the Staatliches Bauhaus Weimar, where he became the artistic director (master of form) of the ceramics workshop. Marcks began to establish his own workshop on the premises of the master potter Max Krehan and established his own studio nearby in Dornburg an der Saale. At the Bauhaus, Marcks produced, in addition to many well-known ceramic works, the woodcut series Wielandslied (Song of Wieland) of 1923 and the Sintrax Coffee Maker of 1924. Marcks left the Bauhaus in 1924.
On the recommendation of the architect Paul Thiersch, Marcks accepted a post as head of sculpture at the Kunstgewerbeschule (school of applied arts) Burg Giebichenstein in Halle. Between 1928 and 1933, Marcks worked as assistant director of the institute of art in Halle. In 1926, he participated in the Internationale Kunstausstellung Dresden (international art exhibition Dresden) and received the prize of the Deutscher Künstlerbund (association of German artists) in Stuttgart in 1930. In 1933, Marcks was dismissed from his director’s post by the National Socialists and banned from teaching at an institute of higher education. In 1935, he received a six-month scholarship from Villa Massimo. Two years later, his work was condemned as “degenerate art”. In 1939, Marcks built his own studio building in Berlin, which together with a large portion of his early work was destroyed in an air raid in 1943. After the end of the war, Friedrich Ahlers-Hestermann appointed him as a teacher at the Kunsthochschule (art academy) in Hamburg. In 1946, he was awarded a professorship at the Landeskunstschule (state art academy) in Hamburg. He ended his teaching activities in 1950 and settled in Cologne as a freelance sculptor. In the following years, he was given many awards (honorary member of the Freie Akademie der Künste in Hamburg, 1969) and art prizes (Kunstpreis der Stadt Berlin, 1955). In 1969, the Gerhard Marcks Foundation was established in Bremen.
Fitschen, Jürgen (2004): Gerhard Marcks. Das plastische Werk 1973–1981, Bielefeld.
Marcks, Gerhard (1994): Blätter aus Dornburg. Holzschnitte, Zeichnungen und Studien der Jahre 1920–1922, Gera.
Weber, Klaus (1989): Gerhard Marcks am Bauhaus, in: Kulturberichte. ASKI, No. 1.
Weber, Klaus (1989): Keramik und Bauhaus. Geschichte und Wirkungen der keramischen Werkstatt des Bauhauses, Berlin.