Painted circa 1909, Resi belongs to an important series of Expressionist portraits that Jawlensky executed in the years leading up to the First World War. These portraits reflect the influence of Fauve art, while simultaneously showing the fully developed features of Jawlensky's expressive style (fig. 1). The years of 1908 and 1909 mark an important turning point in Jawlensky's development as an artist. Working alongside Kandinsky and Münter and influenced by the richness of colours of the works of Van Gogh and the Fauve artists, Jawlensky produced some of his most important works during those years. Later in his career the artist gradually abandoned these brilliantly coloured, highly expressive portraits and turned to more geometrically composed abstract heads.
Looking back at the pre-war years, Jawlensky himself identified this phase in his career as crucial: 'I painted my finest figure paintings in powerful, glowing colours and not at all naturalistic or objective. I used a great deal of red, blue, orange, cadmium yellow and chromium-oxide green. My forms were very strongly contoured in Prussian blue and came with tremendous power from an inner ecstasy... It was a turning point in my art. It was in these years up to 1914 just before the war, that I painted my most powerful works' (quoted in 'Memoir dictated to Lisa Kümmel, 1937', in M. Jawlensky, L. Pieroni-Jawlensky & A. Jawlensky, op.cit., p. 31). This range of bright, vivid colours is present in Resi: the blue in the background and the dark grapes and blue of the model's hat are cool in contrast to the magnificent fiery red and the translucent white of the model's blouse. As in Matisse's striking use of colour opposites in Femme au chapeau of 1905 (fig 3), the colour clashes in Resi create emotional rather than purely visual responses.
In both its subject and style, the present work draws on a rich tradition of modernist painting, including the art of Van Gogh, Matisse and Van Dongen. The short, thick brush-strokes and the juxtaposition of bright and cool tones reflect the influence of Van Gogh, with a zigzag application of paint characteristic of Jawlensky's own style of this period. In 1905 Jawlensky's works were exhibited at the Salon d'Automne in Paris alongside those of the Fauve artists, whose work exerted a strong influence on the development of Jawlensky's style in the following years. His abandonment of the representational function of colour in favour of a more spontaneous, expressive one as reflected in Resi is strongly reminiscent of Matisse's and Van Dongen's portraits at the height of their Fauve period.
Resi is one of the most powerful and stylised of all Jawlensky's female portraits of 1909. Her exotic appearance and elaborate hat combine to create the image of a fashionable young woman as also evident in Gabriele Münter's portrait of Marianne von Werefkin of the same year (fig. 2). The summers of 1908 and 1909 that Jawlensky spent in the company of Wassily Kandinsky, Gabriele Münter and Marianne Von Werefkin saw the evolution of a personal style that culminated in a series of landscape paintings and colourful large-scale portraits such as the present work and marked the painter's transition to one of the most important German Expressionist artists.
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