Alexej von Jawlensky
oil on linen-finish artist's board
22,7 x 17 cm (9 x 6 5/8 in.)
signed with monogram lower left and dated lower right
With the series of "Abstract Heads", Jawlensky reached a preliminary peak in the process of abstraction and spiritualisation in form and content. He developed a formal canon and strictly repeated its laws and its formal reduction and within this restriction the freedom, diversity and spiritual power, which he sought to realise in his art, were able to unfold. The "Abstract Heads" show the head strictly en face, bordered by a U-shape or tilted to one side. To this basic form, only a few constructive elements were added in which the artist developed his colour compositions - a few lines for the face contours (eyes, nose, mouth) and a few strands of hair. Dots or circles were included mostly in the upper third of the image. In the "Abstract Heads", the expressivity of earlier works was replaced by an overall tonal harmony: the result is a vibrating stillness. The closed eyes symbolise inner perception,which enables access to transcendental experiences and realities. Jawlensky aimed to offer the viewer the equivalent of this experience through his paintings. He often chose titles which suggest a certain mood, which the colour composition evoked synesthetically. By evoking certain associations and sentiments with the work as a whole, Jawlensky at the same time offered the contemplator the possibility to tune into the metaphysical essence, which was the aim of his entire art.