Georg Krücke, Wiesbaden (acquired from the artist circa 1928)
Olga Krücke, Wiesbaden (by descent from the above)
Galerie Alfred Gunzenhauser, Munich (acquired from the above in 1984)
Acquired from the above by the family of the present owner
Wiesbaden, Galerie Ludwig Hillsheimer, Alexej von Jawlensky, 1948, no. 2
Frankfurt, Frankfurter Kunstkabinett; Munich, Kunstkabinett Klihm, Alexej von Jawlensky, 1954, no. 11
Dortmund, Museum am Ostwall, Alexej von Jawlensky, 1954
Wiesbaden, Neues Museum, Alexej von Jawlensky, 1954, no. 12
Wiesbaden, Städtisches Museum Gemäldegalerie, Moderne Kunst aus Wiesbadener Privatbesitz, 1957, no. 75
Wiesbaden, Städtisches Museum, Alexej von Jawlensky, 1964, no. 14
Munich, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Alexej von Jawlensky, 1964, no. 58
New York, Leonard Hutton Galleries, A Centennial Exhibition of Paintings by Alexej Jawlensky, 1965, no. 21
Frankfurt, Kunstverein & Hamburg, Kunstverein, Jawlensky, 1967, no. 18
Bielefeld, Kunsthalle, O Mensch! Das Bild des Expressionismus, 1992-93, no. 54
Murnau, Schlossmuseum, Alexej von Jawlensky -- Frühe Portraits 1908-1913, 1995
Dortmund, Museum am Ostwall, Alexej von Jawlensky. Reisen -- Freunde -- Wandlungen, 1998
Zürich and Lausanne, Jawlensky in der Schweiz 1914-1921, 2000-01
Clemens Weiler, Alexej von Jawlensky. Der Maler und Mensch, Wiesbaden, 1955, illustrated pl. IV
Clemens Weiler, Alexej von Jawlensky, Cologne, 1959, no. 79, illustrated p. 232
Tayfun Belgin, Alexej von Jawlensky. A Biography, St. Petersburg, 2000, illustrated p. 78
Angelika Affentranger-Kirchrath, Jawlensky - Das andere Gesicht, Bern, 2000, illustrated p. 20
Maria Jawlensky, Lucia Pieroni-Jawlensky & Angelica Jawlensky, Alexej von Jawlensky, Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings, 1890-1914, London, 1991, vol. I, no. 398, illustrated p. 309
Throughout his career, Alexej von Jawlensky (see fig. 1) would always return to the face as a means to explore the range of human emotion. By employing anonymous portraits to express the power and impact of color (see fig. 2), Jawlensky believed that “human faces are for me only suggestions to see something else in them – the life of colour, seized with a lover’s passion” (quoted in Clemens Weiler, Jawlensky Heads Faces Meditations, London, 1971, p. 12). Spanierin (Spanish Woman), a bold Expressionist composition from around 1911, is one of his most powerful examples of this motif. Completed at the most important period of the artist’s career, it is a distillation of the varied stylistic concerns that preoccupied Jawlensky and the avant-garde during the early part of the 20th century.
Spanierin (Spanish Woman) reflects the many stylistic influences that shaped Jawlensky’s art and contributed to the development of German Expressionist painting. Around the time he created this work, Jawlensky was living in Munich and working closely with fellow Russian artist, Wassily Kandinsky of the independent artist group known as “Neue Künstlervereinigung.” In 1911, the same year that the present work was painted, Kandinsky founded Der Blaue Reiter, an arts periodical that promoted the ideas of this new group and expounded on the value of color and the aesthetic influences of Eastern European folk art. Jawlensky was greatly affected by the ideas of his colleagues, and developed his own expressive style of painting using bold color patches and strong black outlines. The present work is a marvelous example of his new style and exemplifies the concerns of this next wave of German Expressionism.
Jawlensky’s reliance upon color as a means of visual expression derived from the examples of the Fauvist painters of France. Jawlensky first met these artists, including Henri Matisse and Kees van Dongen, shortly after the Fauves' first exhibition at the Salon d’Automne in 1905. He was inspired by their wild coloration and expressive brushwork, and between 1909-1911 the works of these artists had a profound impact on his painting (see fig. 3). Like Matisse, who famously remarked, “I used color as a means of expressing my emotion and not as a transcription of nature” (quoted in Jacqueline and Maurice Guillaud, Matisse: Rhythm and Line, New York, 1987, p. 24). Jawlensky believed that color communicated the complex emotions of his subjects. He has demonstrated the effectiveness of his theory in this striking portrait of a young Spanish woman, and in another portrait of the same title that he completed in 1913 (see fig. 4).
Another important influence on Jawlensky’s painting during this period was the multi-dimensional approach of the Cubists, whose fragmented and highly abstracted compositions he had seen in Paris. As Clemens Weiler has noted, “Cubism… supplied Jawlensky with the means of simplifying, condensing and stylizing the facial form even further, and this simplified and reduced shape he counterbalanced by means of even more intense and brilliant colouring. This enabled him to give these comparatively small heads a monumentality and expressive power that were quite independent of their actual size” (Clemens Weiler, Jawlensky Heads Faces Meditations, London, 1971, p.105).
Spending the summer of 1911 at Prerow on the Baltic, Jawlensky reached an important climax in his career in which he synthesized his reaction to these artistic movements into a personal and unique artistic expression. As Weiler describes, “For him that summer meant the first climax in his creative development. His colours grow as if seen in a state of ecstasy and his shapes are bound powerfully together with broad outlines” (ibid., p.14).
Spanierin is a product of the creative outburst. In the present work, the artist employs a color palette of bright blues and greens, rendering the facial features of his sitter with broad strokes. The model in this instance is unknown, but Jawlensky was concerned less by the realistic portrayal of his subject than with capturing the emotional impact of the composition as a whole. In three-quarter profile, the figure turns her head to the viewer in what seems to be a singular and passing moment. Her powerful gaze captures the viewer’s attention, and her bright eyes create a provocative focal point for the entire picture. As he once wrote to a prominent art collector, “What you feel in front of my paintings is that which you must feel, and so it seems to you that my soul has spoken to yours – therefore it has spoken.” (James Demetrion, Alexej Jawlensky: A Centennial Exhibition, Pasadena Art Museum, 1964, p. 22).
Fig. 1, The artist in Munich, circa 1905
Fig. 2, Alexej von Jawlensky, Sizilianerin mit grünem Shawl, 1912, oil on board, Sold: Sotheby’s, New York, November 2, 2005
Fig. 3, Kees van Dongen, Le doigt sur la joue, circa 1910, oil on canvas, Museum Boimans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam
Fig. 4, Alexej von Jawlensky, Spanierin, 1913, oil on board, Museum Wiesbaden. Collection Hanna Bekker vom Rath
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