Alexei von Jawlensky (1864-1941) was a Russian painter of the German Expressionist Movement. After moving to Munich at the turn of the twentieth century, the artist was based in Germany for the rest of his career and became closely associated with avant-garde movements such as NKVM and Der Blaue Ruiter. He was a close friend of artists such as Vassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee.
For Jawlensky, colour and form were a means of conveying the invisible. Art had to express the individual’s emotional and spiritual state. Spirituality was thus a key aspect of the artist’s œuvre and in his memoirs, Jawlensky wrote: “I knew that I must paint not what I saw, but only what was in me, in my soul […] In my heart I felt as if there were an organ, which I had to sound […] [Creating] songs without words.”
Towards the end of his life, Jawlensky’s works became increasingly abstract. In the 1930’s, with the Nazi rise to power, the Russian artist’s works were classified “degenerate” and he was no longer allowed to exhibit or sell his paintings. Today, his works are housed in the world’s most prestigious museums and Jawlensky is considered a seminal figure in the German Expressionist movement.