Alexej von Jawlensky

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Alexej von Jawlensky
Alexej von Jawlensky Selbstbildnis 1905.jpg
Self-portrait, 1905
Born(1864-03-13)13 March 1864
Died15 March 1941(1941-03-15) (aged 77)
Wiesbaden, Germany
Nationality Russian
Known for Painting
Spouse(s)Helene von Jawlensky
Jawlesnky autograph Jawlensky autograph.png
Jawlesnky autograph

Alexej Georgewitsch von Jawlensky (Russian : Алексе́й Гео́ргиевич Явле́нскийAlekséy Geórgiyevich Yavlénskiy) (13 March 1864 15 March 1941) was a Russian expressionist painter active in Germany. He was a key member of the New Munich Artist's Association (Neue Künstlervereinigung München), Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) group and later the Die Blaue Vier (The Blue Four).

Russian language East Slavic language

Russian is an East Slavic language, which is official in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as being widely used throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Although nearly three decades have passed since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian is used in official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states, as well as in Israel and Mongolia.

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north and the Alps, Lake Constance and the High Rhine to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

The Neue Künstlervereinigung München (NKVM), formed in 1909 in Munich around Wassily Kandinsky, and prefigured Der Blaue Reiter, the first modernist secession which is regarded as a forerunner and pathfinder for Modern art in 20th-century Germany.


Life and work

Alexej von Jawlensky was born in Torzhok, a town in Tver Governorate, Russia, as the fifth child of Georgi von Jawlensky and his wife Alexandra (née Medwedewa). At the age of ten he moved with his family to Moscow. After a few years of military training, he became interested in painting, visiting the Moscow World Exposition c. 1880. Thanks to his good social connections, he managed to get himself posted to St. Petersburg and, from 1889 to 1896, studied at the art academy there, while also discharging his military duties. [1] Jawlensky gained admittance to the circle of Ilya Repin, where he met Marianne von Werefkin, one of Repin's former students and a wealthy artist four years Jawlensky's senior who gave up her career to promote his work and provide him with a comfortable lifestyle. [2]

Torzhok Town of oblast significance in Tver Oblast, Russia

Torzhok is a town in Tver Oblast, Russia, located on the Tvertsa River along the federal highway M10 and a branch of the Oktyabrskaya Railway division of the Russian Railways. The town is famous for its folk craft of goldwork embroidery. Population: 47,644 (2010 Census); 48,967 (2002 Census); 49,982 (1989 Census).

Tver Governorate governorate of the Russian Empire

Tver Governorate was an administrative division of the Russian Empire and Russian SFSR, which existed from 1796 until 1929. Its seat was in Tver. The governorate was located in the center of the European part of the Russian Empire and bordered Novgorod Governorate in the north, Yaroslavl Governorate in the east, Vladimir Governorate in the southeast, Moscow Governorate in the south, Smolensk Governorate in the southwest, and Pskov Governorate in the west.

Russian Empire former country, 1721–1917

The Russian Empire was an empire that extended across Eurasia and North America from 1721, following the end of the Great Northern War, until the Republic was proclaimed by the Provisional Government that took power after the February Revolution of 1917.

Free to pursue his artistic vision, he moved to Munich in 1894, where he studied in the private school of Anton Ažbe. In 1905 Jawlensky visited Ferdinand Hodler, and two years later he began his long friendship with Jan Verkade and met Paul Sérusier. Together, Verkade and Sérusier transmitted to Jawlensky both practical and theoretical elements of the work of the Nabis, and Synthetist principles of art. [3]

Munich Capital and most populous city of Bavaria, Germany

Munich is the capital and most populous city of Bavaria, the second most populous German federal state. With a population of around 1.5 million, it is the third-largest city in Germany, after Berlin and Hamburg, and thus the largest which does not constitute its own state, as well as the 12th-largest city in the European Union. The city's metropolitan region is home to 6 million people. Straddling the banks of the River Isar north of the Bavarian Alps, it is the seat of the Bavarian administrative region of Upper Bavaria, while being the most densely populated municipality in Germany. Munich is the second-largest city in the Bavarian dialect area, after the Austrian capital of Vienna.

Anton Ažbe Slovenian artist

Anton Ažbe was a Slovene realist painter and teacher of painting. Ažbe, crippled since birth and orphaned at the age of 8, learned painting as an apprentice to Janez Wolf and at the Academies in Vienna and Munich. At the age of 30 Ažbe founded his own school of painting in Munich that became a popular attraction for Eastern European students. Ažbe trained the "big four" Slovenian impressionists and a whole generation of Russian painters. Ažbe's training methods were adopted and reused by Russian artists both at home and in emigration.

Ferdinand Hodler Swiss artist

Ferdinand Hodler was one of the best-known Swiss painters of the nineteenth century. His early works were portraits, landscapes, and genre paintings in a realistic style. Later, he adopted a personal form of symbolism which he called "parallelism".

In Munich he met Wassily Kandinsky and various other Russian artists, and he contributed to the formation of the Neue Künstlervereinigung München. His work in this period was lush and richly coloured, but later moved towards abstraction and a simplified, formulaic style. Between 1908 and 1910 Jawlensky and Werefkin spent summers in the Bavarian Alps with Kandinsky and his companion, the painter Gabriele Münter. Here, through painting landscapes of their mountainous surroundings, they experimented with one another's techniques and discussed the theoretical bases of their art. [3] Following a trip to the Baltic coast, and renewed contact with Henri Matisse in 1911 and Emil Nolde in 1912, Jawlensky turned increasingly to the expressive use of colour and form alone in his portraits. [3]

Wassily Kandinsky Russian painter and art theorist

Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky was a Russian painter and art theorist.

Gabriele Münter German painter

Gabriele Münter was a German expressionist painter who was at the forefront of the Munich avant-garde in the early 20th century. She studied and lived with the painter Wassily Kandinsky and was a founding member of the expressionist group Der Blaue Reiter.

Henri Matisse French artist

Henri Émile Benoît Matisse was a French artist, known for both his use of colour and his fluid and original draughtsmanship. He was a draughtsman, printmaker, and sculptor, but is known primarily as a painter. Matisse is commonly regarded, along with Pablo Picasso, as one of the artists who best helped to define the revolutionary developments in the visual arts throughout the opening decades of the twentieth century, responsible for significant developments in painting and sculpture.

External video
Alexei Jawlensky - Young Girl with a Flowered Hat, 1910 - Google Art Project.jpg
Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg Jawlensky's Young Girl in a Flowered Hat, Smarthistory

Expelled from Germany in 1914, he moved to Switzerland. He met Emmy Scheyer in 1916 (Jawlensky gave her the affectionate nickname, Galka, a Russian word for jackdaw), another artist who abandoned her own work to champion his in the United States. [4] After a hiatus in experimentation with the human form, Jawlensky produced perhaps his best-known series, the Mystical Heads (1917–19), and the Saviour’s Faces (1918–20), which are reminiscent of the traditional Russian Orthodox icons of his childhood. [3]

Galka Scheyer German-American painter, art collector, art dealer, teacher

Galka Scheyer was a German-American painter, art dealer, art collector, and teacher. She was the founder of the "Blue Four," an artists' group that consisted of Lyonel Feininger, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee and Alexej Jawlensky.

In 1922, after marrying Werefkin's former maid Hélène Nesnakomoff, the mother of his only son, Andreas, born before their marriage, Jawlensky took up residence in Wiesbaden. In 1924 he organized the Blue Four, whose works, thanks to Scheyer's tireless promotion, were jointly exhibited in Germany and the USA. From 1929 Jawlensky suffered from progressively crippling arthritis, which necessitated a reduced scale and finally forced a cessation in his painting in 1937. [4] He began to dictate his memoirs in 1938. [3] He died in Wiesbaden, Germany, on 15 March 1941. He and his wife Helene are buried in the cemetery of St. Elizabeth's Church, Wiesbaden.

Wiesbaden Place in Hesse, Germany

Wiesbaden is a city in central western Germany and the capital of the federal state of Hesse. As of January 2018, it had 289,544 inhabitants, plus approximately 19,000 United States citizens. The Wiesbaden urban area is home to approx. 560,000 people.

Arthritis A type of joint disorder that involves inflammation of one or more joints

Arthritis is a term often used to mean any disorder that affects joints. Symptoms generally include joint pain and stiffness. Other symptoms may include redness, warmth, swelling, and decreased range of motion of the affected joints. In some types of arthritis, other organs are also affected. Onset can be gradual or sudden.

St. Elizabeths Church, Wiesbaden

The Russian Orthodox Church of Saint Elizabeth in Wiesbaden is the only Russian Orthodox church in Wiesbaden, Germany, and is located on Neroberg. Besides the Russian church there is a parsonage and a Russian cemetery, which is the largest in Europe. St. Elizabeth's Church and its parishioners belong to the Diocese of Germany in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia.


In November 2003 his Schokko (Schokko mit Tellerhut) sold for US$9,296,000 and in February 2008 for GB£9,450,000 (US$18.43 million). [5]

The 2006 album by the jazz group Acoustic Ladyland, Skinny Grin, features one of his works, Portrait of The Dancer Alexander Sacharoff, as its cover art.

The six CD's issued by CPO with the complete string quartets by the Polish composer Mieczysław Weinberg (1919–1996), and played by the Danel Quartet, all have a female portrait by von Jawlensky on their cover. Volume 1 shows "Frauenbildnis" (1909). Volume 2 has "Kind mit blauen Augen". Volume 3 has "Weiblicher Kopf" (1912). Volume 4 has "Mädchen mit Haube" (1910). Volume 5 has "Spanierin" (1911). And volume 6 shows "Kopf" (1912).

Alexej of Jawlensky-Award

In remembrance of the artist, in 1991 the "Jawlensky Award" has been coined. Every five years it is being awarded to contemporary artists by the capital of the federal state of Hesse Wiesbaden, the Spielbank Wiesbaden and the Nassauische Sparkasse. The award is accompanied by a cash prize, an exhibition at the Museum Wiesbaden and the purchase of a work. [6]


Paintings by von Jawlensky are displayed in galleries and museums around the world. The Museum Ostwall in Dortmund, Germany, maintains a collection of exceptional depth. [7] The largest collection of works by von Jawlensky is kept at the Museum Wiesbaden, which owns more than 90 works of the artist, and forms the most important collection of his work in Europe. [8]

Representative works

See also

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  1. Raynor, Vivien (May 1, 1987). "Art: Alexej Jawlensky and His Son, Andreas". The New York Times .
  2. Muchnic, Suzanne (June 30, 2002). "Perfecting the Art of Reading Faces". Los Angeles Times .
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 "Alexei Jawlensky". New York: Museum of Modern Art.
  4. 1 2 Knight, Christopher (January 25, 1991). "Eye-Opening Portraits by Jawlensky". Los Angeles Times.
  5. Vogel, Carol (February 8, 2008). "Sigh of Relief From the Nervous London Auctions". The New York Times.
  6. "Alexej-von-Jawlensky-Preis". Retrieved 2017-11-05.
  7. Schulte-Peevers, Andrea; Gray, Jeremy (2007). Germany. Lonely Planet. p. 577. ISBN   978-1-74059-988-7 . Retrieved 5 March 2012.
  8. "Museum Wiesbaden". Retrieved 2017-11-05.