Thursday, August 22, 2013

Jawlensky, Alexej von

Madchen mit roter Schleife
oil on cardboard
71.5 x 50 cm
location unknown

This painting dating from Jawlensky's most important period was painted on his cardboard and subsequently split from the portrait of Helene which was painted on the reverse of the same board.

Alexej Georgewitsch von Jawlensky (1864 - 1941) was a Russian expressionist painter active in Germany.
Following family tradition, he was originally educated for a military career, attending cadet school, and, later, the Alexander Military School in Moscow. However, while still a cadet, he became interested in painting. At the age of 16, he visited the Moscow World Exposition, which had a profound influence on him. He subsequently spent all of his leisure time at the Tret’yakov State Gallery, Moscow.
In 1884 he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Samogita Infantry-Grenadier’s Regiment, based in Moscow. In 1889 he transferred to a regiment in St Petersburg, and later enrolled in the Academy of Art, where he was a student of Il’ya Repin.
Indeed his works of this period reflected some of the conventions of Realism. Seeking to escape the limitations on expression exhorted by the Russian art establishment, he moved to Munich in 1896. Here he made the acquaintance of expatriate Russian artist, Vasily Kandinsky. In Munich he began his lasting experimentation in the combination of color, line, and form to express his innermost self.

When in 1914 world war I began, he was expelled from Germany due to his Russian citizenship. He moved to Prex on Lake Geneva. And remained in Switzerland until 1921. He suffered from a progressing paralysis and had difficulties in painting. Then his final move to Wiesbaden took place in 1921 for arthritis therapy. In 1937, 72 of his works were confiscated by Natzis as "degenerate artworks". Three years later he died in Wiesbaden.

At the beginning his style was influenced by the Fauves, particularly by Matisse, but he soon discovered his own, Expressionist style, which is characterized by strong colors and simple forms. Later he turned to those calm, spiritualized and mystical images of the human face, which are so typical of Jawlensky.