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 Charles Rennie Mackintosh  (1868 - 1928)

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Lived/Active: Scotland/United Kingdom/England      Known for: Art Nouveau design, architecture, watercolor floral painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh was a Scottish architect, designer, water colorist and artist. He was a designer in the post-impressionist* movement and also the main representative of Art Nouveau* in the United Kingdom. He had considerable influence on European design.

He was born in Glasgow at 70 Parson Street, on 7 June 1868, the fourth of 12 children and second son of William and Margaret Mackintosh. He attended Reid's Public School and the Allan Glen's Institution.  In 1890 Mackintosh was the second winner of the Alexander Thomson Traveling Studentship, set up for the "furtherance of the study of ancient classic architecture, with special reference to the principles illustrated in Mr. Thomson’s works."

On his return, Macintosh resumed work with the Honeyman and Keppie architectural practice where in 1899, he started his first major architectural project, the Glasgow Herald Building.

Mackintosh met fellow artist Margaret MacDonald at the Glasgow School of Art* and they became members of a collaborative group known as “The Four”. They married in 1900. After completing several successful building designs, Mackintosh became a partner in Honeyman and Keppie in 1907. When economic hardships were causing many architectural practices to close in 1913, he resigned from Honeyman and Keppie and attempted to open his own practice.

Unable to sustain an office, Mackintosh and his wife took an extended holiday in Suffolk where he created many floral watercolors. A year later, the Mackintoshes moved to London where he continued to paint and create textile designs. In 1916, Mackintosh received a commission to redesign the home of W.J. Bassett-Lowke. This undertaking would be his last architectural and interior design project.

Mackintosh lived most of his life in the city of Glasgow. Located on the banks of the River Clyde, during the Industrial Revolution, the city had one of the greatest production centres of heavy engineering and shipbuilding in the world. As the city grew and prospered, a faster response to the high demand for consumer goods and arts was necessary. Industrialized, mass-produced items started to gain popularity. Along with the Industrial Revolution, Asian style and emerging modernist ideas also influenced Mackintosh's designs. When the Japanese isolationist regime softened, they opened themselves to globalization resulting in notable Japanese influence around the world. Glasgow’s link with the eastern country became particularly close with shipyards building at the River Clyde being exposed to Japanese navy and training engineers. Japanese design became more accessible and gained great popularity. In fact, it became so popular and so incessantly appropriated and reproduced by Western artists, that the Western World's fascination and preoccupation with Japanese art gave rise to the new term, Japonism or Japonisme*. This style was admired by Mackintosh .

While working in architecture, he developed his own style: a contrast between strong right angles and floral-inspired decorative motifs with subtle curves, e.g. the Mackintosh Rose motif, along with some references to traditional Scottish architecture. The project that helped make his international reputation was the Glasgow School of Art (1897–1909).

Later in life, disillusioned with architecture, Mackintosh worked largely as a watercolourist, painting numerous landscapes and flower studies (often in collaboration with Margaret in the Suffolk village of Walberswick where the couple moved in 1914.  There he was briefly arrested amid accusations of being a German spy in 1915. By 1923, he had entirely abandoned architecture and design and moved to the south of France with Margaret where he concentrated on watercolour landscape painting.  The couple remained in France for two years, before being forced to return to London in 1927 due to being diagnosed with throat and tongue cancer. A brief recovery prompted him to leave the hospital and convalesce at home for a few months. Mackintosh was admitted to a nursing home where he died on 10 December 1928 at the age of 60. He is buried in Golders Green Crematorium in London.

Source:
"Charles Rennie Mackintosh", Wikipedia, //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Rennie_Mackintosh (Accessed 9/2/2013)

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