Alexej von Jawlensky (1864-1941)
Alexej von Jawlensky (1864-1941)

Stilleben mit Gockel

Alexej von Jawlensky (1864-1941)
Stilleben mit Gockel
signed 'A.jawlensky.' (upper left) and signed with the initials 'A.J.' (upper right)
oil on board
21 1/4 x 19 5/8 in. (54 x 49.8 cm.)
Painted in 1910
The artist's estate, and thence by descent.
Galerie Beyeler, Basel, by whom acquired from the above in 1957.
Private collection, Locarno, by 1959.
Anonymous sale, Hauswedell & Nolte, Hamburg, 94th Auction, 1960, lot 597.
Galerie Fricker, Paris.
Acquired from the above by the father of the present owners on 1 July 1964.
C. Weiler, Alexej Jawlensky, Cologne, 1959, no. 738, p. 280 (illustrated; titled 'Mit Gockel').
C. Weiler, Jawlensky, Heads, Faces, Meditations, London, 1971, no. 1314, p. 135 (titled 'With cockerel').
M. Jawlensky, L. Pieroni-Jawlensky & A. Jawlensky, Alexej von Jawlensky, Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings, vol. I, 1890-1914, London, 1991, no. 368, p. 295 (illustrated).

Basel, Galerie Beyeler, Alexej von Jawlensky, January - February 1957, no. 5 [titled 'Stilleben mit kleiner Tonfigur (Gockel)'].
Saarbrücken, Saarland-Museum, Zusatz-Blatt, July - August 1957, no. 3.
Dusseldorf, Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Alexej von Jawlensky, September 1957, no. 23; this exhibition later travelled to Hamburg, Kunstverein, October - November 1957.
Stuttgart, Württembergischer Kunstverein, Alexej von Jawlensky, February - March 1958, no. 25 (titled 'Stilleben mit kleiner Tonfigur'); this exhibition later travelled to Mannheim, Städtische Kunsthalle, March - April 1958.
Los Angeles, Stephen Silagy Galleries, Alexej von Jawlensky, 1958, no. 22 (illustrated).
London, Redfern Gallery, Alexej von Jawlensky, October 1960, no. 57.

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Antoine Lebouteiller
Antoine Lebouteiller

Lot Essay

I tried in these still-life paintings to go beyond the material objects and express in colour and form the thing which was vibrating within me’ (Jawlensky, quoted in The Blue Rider In the Lenbachhaus, Munich, 2000, n.p.)

The genre of still life had, throughout Jawlensky’s career, provided a vehicle for the experimentation of ideas and techniques. Admired for its intrinsically timeless and neutral qualities, it afforded an important arena for discovery, and indeed self-discovery, as Jawlensky sought an artistic idiom that could harness his vision. He explained, ‘At that time I was painting mostly still lifes because in them I could more easily find myself’ (quoted in M. Jawlensky, Alexej von Jawlensky, Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings, vol. I, 1890-1914, London, 1991, p. 30).

Jawlensky developed an aesthetic, which was rooted in the joy of life and the expressive use of colour and space. This is displayed in Stilleben mit Gockel where forms are simplified to basic motifs, so that they become expressions of the objects rather than realistic renderings. This is seen most notably in the cockerel to the right, which becomes almost stereotypical in its shaping of the bird. Identified by brilliant areas of colour, outlined by thick black borders, Jawlensky flattens the surface, limiting the perspective and allowing the subject to dominate the canvas. This technique is reminiscent of stain glass windows, where fields of colour are separated, so as to set them into bold relief, adding to their intensity. Indeed Jawlensky became famed for his strong use of colour, pairing flat planes of complimentary tones to grant a pulsating energy in his paintings. This practice is seen most effectively in Stilleben mit Gockel, where the orange and reds of the fruit, are animated by the blue and green tones of the flowers and background, giving vitality to the work.

1910, the year that Stilleben mit Gockel was painted, marked a crucial turning point for Jawlensky, who turned towards a more Expressionistic manner of painting, which would determine his work going forward. Juxtaposing complimentary colours, applied without dilution, in a deliberately coarse and improvisatory manner, Jawlensky displayed the fruition of his maturing style, as well as the assimilation of successive generations of the French avant-garde artists. His absorption of both the Synthesism that Gauguin promoted and the Fauves explosive use of colour, established him as a figurehead for a new force of painters in Germany, in particular influencing the young Expressionists. A year before, in 1909, Jawlensky founded the Neue Künstlervereinigung Munich,
alongside artists such as Kandinsky and Karl Hofer, with Franz Marc joining the following year. This group was to prefigure the Der Blaue Reiter and was to path the way for modern art in 20th century Germany.

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