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Blaue Kappe (Blue Cap)
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Blaue Kappe (Blue Cap)
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About the item

"Human faces are for me only suggestions to see something else in themthe life of color, seized with a lovers passion." Alexej von Jawlensky\n\nPainted circa 1912, Blaue Kappe is a highly expressive example of Jawlenskys early portraiture, a genre that was to occupy a central position in his oeuvre. Jawlensky returned to the subject of the human face throughout his career, rendering it in various degrees of abstraction. The present work belongs to an important series of heads and busts created in the years leading up to the First World War, which reflect his fundamental debt to Fauve art, while showing fully developed features of Jawlenskys unique Expressionist style.\nLooking back at the pre-war years, the artist himself identified this phase in his career as crucial: "I painted my finest figure paintings in powerful, glowing colors 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" (quoted in M. Jawlensky, L. Pieroni-Jawlensky & A. Jawlensky, op. cit., p. 31). This range of bright, vivid colors is present in Blaue Kappe: the strong palette used for the womans blouse and hat and the almost shocking pink tonality of her skin are further amplified by the bright red background and a deep blue-green tonality of what appears to be an armchair she is seated on. In a composition dominated by broad, free brushstrokes the womans facial featureselegantly contoured in blackstand out, emphasizing the beauty of her lips and her large almond-shaped eyes.\nCreated during the most innovative period of his career, Blaue Kappe is a distillation of the varied stylistic concerns that preoccupied Jawlensky and the avant-garde during the early part of the twentieth century. In 1912 Jawlensky was living in Munich and working closely with the fellow Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky, with whom he had founded Der Blaue Reiter the previous year. Like Kandinsky, Jawlensky greatly admired both Russian and Bavarian folk art and customs, reflected in the clothing and headdress that the sitter in the present portrait is wearing. Furthermore, he was also influenced by the mannerism of Russian Orthodox icons which he encountered in his youth. The artist commented on this influence and remarked: "I am Russian-born. As such my heart and soul have always felt close to old Russian art, to Russian icons, the art of Byzantium, the mosaics of Ravenna, Venice and Rome and the art of the Romanesque period. All these arts would set up a holy vibration in my soul, for they spoke to me in a language of deep spirituality. It was this art that gave me my tradition" (quoted in C. Weiler, Jawlensky: Heads, Faces, Meditations, London, 1971, p. 11).\nIn both its choice of theme and style of execution, the present work draws on a rich tradition of modernist painting, including the art of, among others, Van Gogh, Matisse and van Dongen. The short, thick brush strokes and the juxtaposition of brighter and cooler tones reflect the influence of van Gogh and Cézanne. In 1905 Jawlenskys works were exhibited at the Salon dAutomne in Paris alongside those of the Fauve artists, who were to play the most important role in the development of Jawlenskys style in the following years. His abandonment of representational function of color in favor of a more spontaneous, expressive one is strongly reminiscent of Matisses portraits at the height of his Fauve period.\nVolker Rattemeyer wrote about the influences of Fauve artists visible in Jawlenskys portraits executed around this time: "The manner in which the vivid colors and blue/black contours begin to focus on specific featureseyes, nose and mouthseems to have been inspired by van Dongen. In contrast to the overt sensuality of van Dongens female portraits, Jawlenskys are dominated by an introspective seriousness" (V. Rattemeyer, Alexej von Jawlensky (exhibition catalogue), Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 1994, p. 77). Not only are van Dongens models often depicted nude or semi-nude, but are also frequently adorned with elegant, elaborate hats that emphasize their seductive character, as in his Femme au grand chapeau from 1906. While they offer a colorful treatment of their sitters facial feature, Jawlenskys figure appears more demure, and her clothing suggests a local flavor rather than a lady from high society or a cabaret performer.\nAnother important influence on Jawlenskys form of abstraction 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, with which he became acquainted in 1910, 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" (C. Weiler, op. cit., p. 14).\nDuring the period in which Blaue Kappe was painted, Jawlensky was able to distill all these disparate sources of inspiration into a highly original style for which he is now best known. "During the years around 1912, Jawlensky devoted himself increasingly to the treatment of a single theme, that of the female face. Conventional portraiture is abandoned in favor of what are in essence representations of a type. Like so many Expressionist artists, he was not interested in capturing a precise physical likeness. Rather, his paintings draw attention to the abstract, expressive character of the face, the representation of which is raised to a level of the utmost stylization" (P. Vergo, The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Twentieth-Century German Painting, London, 1992, pp. 148-51). In Blaue Kappe this stylization results in a portrait that is wonderfully vibrant and bold, the epitome of Jawlenskys most daring avant-garde work.\nSigned A. Jawlensky (lower left); signed with the initials A.J. (lower right)
US
NY, US
US

notes

Please note there is an Irrevocable Bid on this lot.

medium

Oil on board

creator

Jawlensky, Alexej

dimensions

25 1/2  by 21 1/8 in.

exhibition

Dresden, Galerie Emil Richter, Alexej Jawlensky, 1922, n.n. New York, Kleemann Gallery, Alexej v. Jawlensky, 1864-1941, 1956, no. 10, illustrated in the catalogue Dusseldorf, Galerie Wilhelm Grosshennig, Sonderausstellung Alexej v. Jawlensky, 1961, n.n., illustrated in the catalogue London, Crane Kalman Gallery, Paintings by Alexej Jawlensky, 1864-1941, 1961, n.n., illustrated in the catalogue Lausanne, Palais de Beaulieu, Chefs d'oeuvre des collections suisses, de Manet à Picasso, 1964, no. 185, illustrated in the catalogue Geneva, Musée Rath, Art du XXe siècle: Collections Genevoises, 1973, no. 6, illustrated in color in the catalogue Locarno, Pinacoteca Comunale Casa Rusca, Alexej Jawlensky, 1989, no. 47, illustrated in color in the catalogue Nagoya, Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art; Kyoto, The National Museum of Modern Art & Tokyo, The National Museum of Modern Art, Fauvism and Modern Japanese Painting, 1992-93, no. 70, illustrated in color in the catalogue Toronto, Art Gallery of Ontario, 1994-95 (on loan) Geneva, Musée Rath, Alexej von Jawlensky, 1995, no. 66, illustrated in color in the catalogue (as dating from circa 1912) London, The Courtauld Gallery, 2002-18 (on loan)

literature

Clemens Weiler, Alexej Jawlensky, Cologne, 1959, no. 105, illustrated p. 177 Achille Boroli & Vincenzo Ceppellini, Le Muse. Enciclopedia di tutte le Arti, vol. VI, Novara, 1966, illustrated in color p. 41 Jürgen Schultze, Alexej Jawlensky, Cologne, 1970, illustrated pl. 16 Clemens Weiler, Alexej Jawlensky. Köpfe, Gesichte, Meditationen, Hanau, 1970, no. 92 Maria Jawlensky, Lucia Pieroni-Jawlensky & Angelica Jawlensky, Alexej von Jawlensky, Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings, vol. I, London, 1991, no. 443, illustrated in color p. 342 Judi Freeman, The Fridart Collection: Nineteenth and Twentieth-Century Modern Masterworks, London, 1998, illustrated in color p. 142 The Courtauld Institute of Art, ed., The 20th Century at the Courtauld Institute Gallery, London, 2002, illustrated in color p. 51

provenance

Private Collection, New York Sale: Klipstein & Kornfeld, Bern, May 25, 1962, lot 453 Acquired at the above sale

signedDate

Signed A. Jawlensky (lower left); signed with the initials A.J. (lower right)

time_period

Painted circa 1912.

time_range_end

1912

artist_range_end

1941

time_range_start

1912

artist_range_start

1864

consignmentDesignation

The Triumph of Color: Important Works from a Private European Collection

creator_nationality_dates

1864 - 1941


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.


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