Alexey Yavlensky was an expressionist artist of Russian origin who created all his paintings after moving to Germany. The work of Alexei Yavlensky was influenced by the military and revolutionary events of the early 20th century.
Alexey Yavlensky was one of the artists who sought to paint not the surrounding life, but the emotional state. Therefore, they called themselves expressionists: the Latin word “expressio” is translated as “expression.” The brightest emotions that served to create paintings at that time were fear, anxiety, and the expectation of new shocks.
Biography of Alexei Yavlensky
Alexey Yavlensky was born in the city of Torzhok, located in the foothills of the Valdai Upland, on March 13, 1864. Parents predicted a military career for him. The colonel father, after the family moved to Moscow, sent his 11-year-old son to the cadet corps.
In 1887, the young man graduated from the 3rd Aleksandrovsk military school and went to serve in the 2nd Kronstadt battalion. The transfer to St. Petersburg allowed him to enter an art school. From 1889 he attended the Academy of Arts, studying painting in the class of Ilya Repin. A couple of years later, he met Marianna Verevkina. She was 4 years older, established herself as an established artist, but abandoned her own studies in order to develop the talent of a new friend.
In 1896, Alexei Yavlensky retired and, together with Marianna Verevkina, went to Munich, where he studied at the school of Anton Azbe. Verevkina’s money helped to settle safely abroad: she received an inheritance and a pension for her deceased father. The Munich period brought Alexei Yavlensky together with many famous artists, including Wassily Kandinsky, the ideological inspirer of the Blue Horseman society. The Dutchman Vincent van Gogh, the French Paul Cezanne, Henri Matisse and Paul Gauguin also had a strong influence on Jawlensky.
Alexei Yavlensky boldly experimented with paints, bright colors, unexpected compositional solutions, which markedly stood out among other artists. The famous portrait of Alexander Sakharov, painted in 1909, belongs to this creative period.
Alexey Yavlensky connected all his creative interests with Munich.
He sold paintings, met with friends from the artistic environment. But the First World War made cruel adjustments: born in a hostile power, among the Germans, the master fell into the status of “unwanted person”. I had to move to Switzerland. He was accompanied by two women Marianna Verevkina and Elena Neznakomova.
Having found refuge in a small village on the shores of Lake Geneva, the artist needed not only new ideas, but also money: because of the war, Verevkina stopped receiving a Russian pension. But in 1916 Alexey Yavlensky met Emmy Scheyer. She, like his previous passions, abandoned her own career, became the artist’s personal secretary, and fussed about organizing his exhibitions.
Since 1917, the painter began a new series of paintings under the general title “Mystical Heads”.
In search of ideas, Aleksey Yavlensky traveled a lot: he visited Zurich and Ascona, and in 1922 he returned to Germany. At first he was lucky personal exhibitions were often held. But in 1933, the Nazis came to power, who did not appreciate his work.
In 1937, after an exhibition called “Degenerate Art”, 70 of his paintings were confiscated. In the last years of his life, the artist began to develop paralysis due to arthritis. He created a later series of paintings entitled “Meditations”, painting with both hands. On March 15, 1941, Alexei Yavlensky died. His family buried him in the Wiesbaden Orthodox cemetery. The creative heritage of the painter was preserved for the descendants of Elena Neznakomova and her daughter. In Russia, the first major exhibition of the artist was held only in 2000.
The most famous paintings by Alexei Yavlensky
The paintings of Alexei Yavlensky received mixed assessments from contemporaries. They were liked by fans of Expressionism, aroused sharp criticism and rejection from the Nazis. The most famous works of the master:
- “Portrait of the Dancer Alexander Sakharov” (1909) there is an opinion that the famous choreographer was the first transvestite in Russia. This portrait of him is considered a textbook.
- “Factory” (1910) is a model by which the author expressed the idea that, unlike photography, painting should remain “unrealistic”, combine unexpected colors that awaken feelings and emotions in the viewer.
- “Lake Geneva” (1915) the picture is painted with oil paints on cardboard. The author gave it to one of the collectors in the 1920s. In the following decades, she exhibited in Dusseldorf, Cologne, New York.
- The Mystical Head (1917) is one of the works of the cycle, created in an attempt to understand the emotionality of the world. For the first heads, Marianna Verevkina and Elena Neznakomova posed for the artist, the rest were created by imagination.
- Meditation (1934) according to the author, the cycle was created on the principle of excluding details in favor of emotions. The cycle of “Meditations” includes more than a hundred such pictures.