Painted in 1922, Abstrakter Kopf: Sonnig beschwingt (Abstract head: Sunny Elated) is an early example of the series of "Abstract Heads" which Jawlensky began a few years after the end of the First World War, and which was to occupy him throughout the 1920s and 1930s. It was in this group of paintings that Jawlensky truly pared back all the superfluous details that had been in his earlier "Mystical Heads" and the "Saviour's Faces" of the preceding years. These simplified faces are characterised by a consistent compositional design which retains the main structure of the head, while translating features, such as the closed eyes and thin mouth, into geometric planes that surround the central axis, creating a formalized template that allowed him to arrange colour systematically in his search for spirituality. Unlike many of the works from this series, where the face is often frontal, the composition here is more harmonious, with the visage slightly rotated and the lines arranged in a softly diagonal plane.
The joyful bright palette, suggested in the title of the work itself, ‘Sunny Elated’, also stands out among other works of the series, mainly marked by bold black outlines and darker, contrasting colours. Jawlensky’s schematic approach to painting was closely related to the linear style of Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky and Lyonel Feininger, all of whom taught at the Bauhaus in the 1920s. Together with Jawlensky, they formed the Blue Four, an artist’s group tirelessly promoted by Galka Scheyer and which first exhibited together at the Nassauischer Kunstverein in Wiesbaden in 1921, a year before the present work was painted. A great example of the artist’s most iconic subject, Abstrakter Kopf: Sonnig beschwingt, was acquired in the late 1990s by the family of the present owner and has since remained in the same private collection.