von Jawlensky

Germany • 1864−1941

Biography and information

Alexey Georgievich Yavlensky (German Alexej von Jawlensky; March 25, 1864, Tver Province - March 15, 1941, Wiesbaden) - expressionist artist, who was born and raised in Russia, but became a famous artist in Germany, where he lived most of his life.

Features of the artist Alexei Yavlensky: the artist went through a passion for avant-garde trends - post-impressionism, cubism, fauvism. Never imitating and not blindly using tricks, Yavlensky tried on various visual languages to his view of the world. As part of the New Art Association and "Blue Rider"Yavlensky - expressionist: bright, contrasting colors, simplified forms without volume, painterly planes filled with pure tone, and the desire to express inner experiences with painterly means. Searching for the whole cosmos and meanings in human faces, Yavlensky more and more focuses on the portrait, writes several cycles of “heads”: portraits of acquaintances, then impersonal “Mystical heads”, “Abstract heads”. In the last portrait cycle of Meditation, Yavlensky approached abstraction - but there, on the border, he stopped: the horizontals read like eyes and mouth, the vertical line is like a nose, with a general look, the lines invariably fold into a cross.

Famous paintings by Alexei Yavlensky: "Portrait of a dancer Alexander Sakharov", “Abstract Head: Late Summer (Crescent)”, "Lady with Peonies", "Chocco in a wide-brimmed hat", "Meditation".


In 1882 the All-Russian Art and Industrial Exhibition opened in Moscow. She was postponed for 7 years - first because of Russia's participation in the World Exhibitions in France and America, then - because of the attempt on the emperor. But now the event turned out to be a grandiose one: porcelain and vodka factories, a fountain with cologne and an electric railway, an armory and a steel plant, garden and agricultural achievements. Cadets drive through the halls with a guided tour. The pupil of the cadet corps, Yawlensky, with a yawning look at the pavilions, wearily passes from smoking machines to cold weapons. And suddenly his gaze slides along the walls of the art pavilion - he sees a pictorial exhibition for the first time in his life. From this day on, art becomes for the cadet Yavlensky a passion and a life purpose.

Alexey's father, a colonel, a nobleman, was preparing his son for military service and listened with great perplexity from the art teacher that his son must be professionally engaged in painting. Because talent, ability and vocation. Colonel Yavlensky is even ready to listen to the recommendation, but he will not have time to arrange the fate of his son - he will die a month later. And then Alexey had to become an excellent military man in order to be able to become an artist. He enters a military academy, diligently engaged, and on Sundays he copies pictures. Vasily Vereshchaginin the Tretyakov Gallery.

Having graduated from the school, Lieutenant Yavlensky, with connections, charm, and perseverance, achieves one goal - the transfer from Moscow to Petersburg, because there the officers can attend the Academy of Arts.


Imposing, passionate silence with a military bearing, Alexey Yavlensky, to a very old age, will have a strange influence on intelligent, temperamental and talented women: they will recklessly believe in him.

WITH Marianna Verevkina, a young artist, Yavlensky met as a student of the Academy of Arts, a lieutenant of the Alexander Nevsky regiment and a regular at famous collections in the house Ilya Repin. An educated, capable Marianne within the framework of realistic art is already boring, she is looking for her own language, trying to write in a new way, able to captivate and convince. And Alexey, 4 years younger, is still copying plaster busts and statues at the Academy. And she undertakes to teach him, instruct him - they work together in the workshop, they leave for the Verevkins' estate for summer etudes. Delighted with Yavlensky's successes, Marianna is ready for him at all. Already in love, admired, Alexey in vain accepts the favor of Marianna for love - she loves his art, is ready to be called a common-law wife, ready to take him away to study in Munich for her “royal” pension, which was laid after her father’s death. But neither is she going to marry, nor is she going to plot a real novel - she despises bodily intimacy.

Elena Neznakomova was a pupil, a cook and a maid Verevkina back in Russia - and went to Munich with her to help with the housework. It will take several years - and even a minor, Elena, will give birth to a son of Yavlensky. On the one hand, Marianna: she abandoned her own career and engaged exclusively in the work of Alexei, arranged the Pink Salon in the house, where he can meet with writers, artists, dancers and diplomats, she writes works on art and lectures. On the other hand, Elena: it is so pleasant to chat with her in the kitchen about everyday affairs, to laugh and play with her beloved son. This strange family will live under the same roof for more than 20 years: Marianna and Alexey will be teaching little Andrei to painting, all four of them will travel together. Yavlensky will break up with Verevkina and will marry a stranger when he is already 58 years old.

25-year-old Emmi Shayer, daughter of a rich industrialist, young impressionist, educated and free, visited the exhibition of works by Alexei Yavlensky in 1914. And she was so shocked that she sought out an artist who was hiding then in Switzerland from the war, gave up her own painting and devoted her life to one goal - to acquaint the world with Yavlensky's paintings. Since 1920, she is a personal secretary, but in fact much more: she writes letters, organizes exhibitions, hangs pictures on them, lectures and leads tours, carries pictures from town to town and from country to country.

There were still others, inexplicably loyal, enthusiastic, close women. The artist and designer Liza Kummel, who just comes to the workshop and helps the already sick Alexei Georgievich systematize the work, compile their catalog, write down the memories, glues, varnish and the rest on the little things. Or, for example, Hannah Becker von Rath, also an artist who organized a whole society of support for Jawlensky, collected contributions from its members and helped the artist and his family survive in difficult times. Granddaughter and keeper of the Yavlensky Foundation says: grandfather was an exceptional friend, gave advice and could listen, was courteous and sympathetic, talked to women on an equal footing and absolutely seriously told how to combine colors in a dress as if it was not less important than a new picture .


Art critics (mostly German) claim that Yavlensky is unique as an artist and is listed in the second row for some non-objective reasons. His “Heads” and “Meditations”, a series of small canvases with portraits, are nothing like. They amazed contemporaries with sculpturalness, depth, bold painting, spiritual sound. They appeared outside the tradition and are not borrowed from anywhere. They grew out of his own internal search.

When Yavlensky and Verevkina ended up in Germany, Alexey went to study at the school of Slovak Anton Aschbe - and there he met Wassily Kandinsky. This friendship will last for many years: Verevkina, Yavlensky, Kandinsky and his beloved Gabriel Munterthey will live in the same house in Murnau, together they will organize the New Art Association and later they will be next to them in the “Blue Rider”. Together they send works to the exhibitions of the French Fauvists, to the exhibition of Russian art, which is organized by Dyagilev. Kandinsky is charismatic, persuasive, persistent - he writes theoretical works and earns awards. Yavlensky has taught for many years at his own art school and silently writes, enjoys Buddhism and travels to the esoteric lectures of Steiner. Painting for him is a very personal matter, the process of finding the truth and the right language.

World War I, exile, the need to build a whole life from scratch, pictures lost during relocations, fame and recognition, years of confiscations and prohibitions during Hitler’s rule, serious illness and desperate poverty. In all these upheavals, he finds the only reason to write - to find God and the meaning of his own existence, far more important than glory. “I realized that real art should be written only with a religious feeling. And this I could express only in the human face. I understood that the artist must say through forms and colors what is Divine in him. Therefore, a work of art is the visible God, and art is God seeking. I have been writing faces for many years, and I no longer needed nature as a prompter. ”.

At the exhibition "Degenerative Art" Yavlensky brought in a wheelchair. He now works with two hands - one does not work. He writes his “Meditations”, almost abstract, perfect heads, free from unnecessary details - pure spirit and pure meaning. But passing through the halls with pictures of familiar, close, talented artists, he understands that no one else except him needs to search for God. The exhibition has 4 of his work.

Author: Anna Sidelnikova