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Alexej von Jawlensky

1864, Torjok Russia – 1941, Wiesbaden Germany

– 1898: Alexej von Jawlensky begins his career as a painter in St. Petersburg.

– 1903 to 1907: he lives partly in France where, influenced by the Neo-Impressionists and the Fauves – particularly Matisse – he creates portraits and still-lifes in rich colors.

– 1909: along with Kandinsky, he is one of the founders of the Neue Kunstlervereinigung (NKV) artists’ group, which holds its first exhibition in Munich, and from which Kandinsky’s Blaue Reiter (Blue Rider) group is then formed in 1912.

– 1916: start of the Têtes mystiques series. Alexej von Jawlensky has entered the collective memory thanks to these works. He paints faces with the eyes, nose and mouth reduced to coloured shapes, surrounded by lines representing the face and the neck.

– 1918: start of Têtes abstraites.

– 1921: he settles permanently in Germany and concentrates on painting variations of images on board – imaginary landscapes, women’s heads reduced to a few signs. The faces now have their eyes closed. He subsequently linked this type of primitive representation that obsessed him with a Russian mystical tradition. These Méditations continue into the 1930s with subdued colours and pared-down rings that turn into lines.

Alexej von Jawlensky created an archetype of the human visage, made up of a U-shaped face, triangular hair and closed eyes, symbolising introspection.