2The Russian painter Alexej von Jawlensky ( ) was one of the important contributors to Expressionism, to which he added a meditative, or inward reflective, component of unique power.Self portrait
3Born March 13, 1864 (old calendar), on the noble family’s estate near Torschok in Russia, Jawlensky was the son of a colonel and was himself destined to become an officer. While still attending cadet school he discovered the arts, and by obtaining a transfer as a young lieutenant to St. Petersburg, he was able to study at the Academy of Fine Arts and under the important Russian realist painter Ilya Repin (called the Russian Courbet). There he met the painter Marianna von Werefkin, the daughter of a general, who was to devote a large part of her life to encouraging and furthering Jawlensky’s career as an artist. In 1896, by then a captain, he left the service and moved with Werefkin and Helen Nesnakomoff (her servant and later Jawlensky’s wife and mother of his son Andrej) as well as two other painter friends to Munich to attend the private art school of Anton Azbé. Here he met and began a lifelong friendship with Wassily Kandinsky, who was to become one of the founders of abstract (non-objective) painting.
7"Nature morte avec bouteille, fruits et figure" 1907
8Extended travels in Europe and especially through France introduced Jawlensky to modern art developments. He met Henri Matisse (in 1907 he worked for a while in Matisse’s studio). After his return to Munich he met Paul Klee and Franz Marc and joined them and Kandinsky in the most avant-garde artist group in southern Germany, the New Artist Association Munich. Kandinsky’s long time friend Gabriele Münter, Alfred Kubin, Adolf Erbslöh, the Russian Bechtjeleff, and others belonged to his circle, in which Werefkin played an important intellectual role.
10White Cloud, 1909Jawlensky's brightly colored shapes fill the picture space, and his broad brushstrokes accentuate the painted surface. He has simplified his forms but not lost sight of the "natural" elements of his landscape; nor has he transformed nature into total abstraction.
14Girl with the Green Face, 1910 Jawlensky reduces the illusion of three-dimensionality by applying broad patterns of decorative color to his backgrounds as well as to his figures. The luxurious colors, bold brushwork, and voluptuous expression of the subject all contribute to the sensuous richness of the composition.Blonde-1911Girl with the Green Face, 1910
26With the beginning of World War I, Jawlensky as a Russian had to leave Germany, settling in Switzerland. In 1916 he met Emmy (whom he called Galka) Scheyer, who became his student and shortly thereafter his impresario, organizing exhibitions of his works in Germany. In 1924 she formed the “Blue Four” consisting of Jawlensky, Kandinsky, Klee, and Lyonel Feininger to introduce the works of these artists to the United States; she organized – primarily in California – a number of exhibits, gave lectures, and represented the artists until her death in 1945.Galka Scheyer, die „Prophetin der Blauen Vier“, mit Lyonel Feininger, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee und Alexej Jawlensky, Zeitungscollage aus dem „San Francisco Examiner“ vom 1. November 1925
27Variation: Arc of Mourning, 1916 Jawlensky's Variations are colored, almost abstract meditations upon a few unchanging forms distilled from tree shapes. They clearly foreshadow the icon-like quality of his later work, with its eternal repetition of meditative signs.Variation with Fence-1915
28In a letter he wrote to Galka Scheyer in 1919, thought : Jawlensky said, "Klee did not approve of. . .my pictures he said they are too intellectual, too thought out. I think all of that is wrong."Variation: Snow, c.1916Variation: Spring Evening, 1916
29Jawlensky’s life work contained only three themes: still lifes, landscapes, and portraits. Convinced that the visual representation of inner experiences is the goal of the arts, he consistently sought a synthesis between the external world and the experience of the inner world of the artist. Painting in strong colors, he abbreviated the natural forms until his landscapes became colorful visions and his still lifes manifestations of serene spaces.Variation: Village,
30Variation: Summer Blessing, 1916 During his time in Switzerland he painted a series of abstracted landscapes which he called “Songs without words,” indicating that not an objective reproduction of natural vision but an invocation of feelings created by the natural settings was intended. Having studied the works of Van Gogh and Matisse, Gauguin and Cezanne and familiar with the works of the symbolist painters as well as with Cubism and Fauvism, Jawlensky created his own forms, which were strong-colored expressions of his emotions and of his spiritual strivings and convictions.Variation: Summer Blessing, 1916
35Mystical Head: Head of an Angel, 1917-1918 The compositional oval sweeps of the landscape "Variations," and their flat, broad color areas are still evident in Jawlensky's series of female heads. This work, probably a portrait of Scheyer, is inscribed on the reverse: "To love means to live the life of him whom one loves. A. J.". The pose of the head, however, and the prominent eyes, brow, and line of the nose, as well as the richness of the surface, are all reminiscent of the religious imagery of the artist's Russian youth.Mystical Head: Head of an Angel,
36Mystical Head: The Poison Blossom, 1918 On the reverse of this painting, Jawlensky has inscribed: "If the light in you is extinguished, then a dark shadow of your own heart falls across your path. Be on guard against these terrible shadows. No light of your understanding can destroy the darknesses which flow out of your soul until all self-loving thoughts have been driven out."Mystical Head: The Poison Blossom, 1918
38Self-Caricature in Profile In 1921 Jawlensky had moved to Wiesbaden in Germany and, his friendship with Werefkin broken, had married Helen Nesnakomoff in In 1929 he began to suffer from arthritis which forced him to paint with both hands since he could no longer hold a brush; he was unable to paint at all after His art was declared “degenerate” by the Nazis in 1937 and 72 of his works were confiscated from collections of German museums. Jawlensky died on March 15, 1941.Self-Caricature in Profilewith Hat,
39Self-Caricature, with Triangle Nose Standing in Rain,
41Inclined Head with Closed Eyes circa 1922 Savior's Face: Winter, 1921
42Abstract Head: Life and Death Many writers have noted Jawlensky's progressively religious concentration upon the human face during the last twenty years of his life. He expressed this spiritualized conception of humanity in a letter written in June 1938: "I knew that great art should only be painted with religious feeling. And that was something I could bring only to the human face. I realized that the artist must express...that within him which is divine. That is why the work of art is a visible God, and why art is 'a longing for God.'"Abstract Head: Life and Death1923
43Abstract Head: Winter Ringing, 1927 As Jawlensky explored the human face during the 1920s, he reduced it to simple geometrical patterns. He further confined the space so that the boundaries did not move beyond the eyebrows, chin, and ears. His form for these "Constructivist Heads" was based on geometric planes disposed around the vertical axis of the nose, the horizontal of the eyes, and the complimentary arches of the eyebrows and chin.
44"The artist expresses only what he has within himself, not what he sees with his eyes"