Marianne von Werefkin (1860-1938) was a Russian-German artist known for her contributions to the development of Expressionism and her involvement in various artist groups in the early 20th century.
Born in Tula, Russia, von Werefkin was the daughter of a wealthy military officer and a mother who was an accomplished pianist. She grew up in a privileged environment and received a classical education, studying music, literature, and languages. In her youth, she also showed an interest in drawing and painting, but her parents disapproved of art as a profession for a woman.
In 1880, von Werefkin moved to St. Petersburg to pursue her artistic aspirations. She studied under Ilya Repin, a renowned Russian painter, and was deeply influenced by his realist style. In 1892, she met Alexej von Jawlensky, another student of Repin's, who became her companion and eventually her husband. Together, they left Russia and settled in Munich, Germany.
In Munich, von Werefkin and Jawlensky became involved with various artists' groups, including the Blue Rider, a movement that sought to break away from academic traditions and embrace a new, more expressive style of art. Von Werefkin was also associated with the Neue Künstlervereinigung München (New Artists' Association of Munich), which included artists such as Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc.
Von Werefkin's early work was characterized by a realist style, but she gradually moved towards a more expressive, abstract style. She experimented with color and form, often using bold, intense hues and simplified shapes. Her work was also influenced by her interest in spiritualism and mysticism.
Von Werefkin's most important paintings include:
"The Tempest" (1904): This painting is considered one of von Werefkin's early masterpieces. It features a stormy landscape with dramatic, swirling clouds and a sense of tension and unease.
"The Russian Singer" (1907): This painting shows a woman in traditional Russian dress singing with great intensity. The bright, vibrant colors and stylized forms convey a sense of energy and emotion.
"The Black Virgin" (1910): This painting depicts a medieval statue of the Virgin Mary. Von Werefkin's use of dark, somber colors and distorted forms creates a sense of mystery and reverence.
"Self-Portrait with a Lamp" (1910): This self-portrait shows von Werefkin with a lamp, creating a dramatic contrast between light and shadow. The simplified, angular forms and intense colors convey a sense of introspection and intensity.
"The Mandrill" (1912): This painting shows a mandrill, a type of primate, in a bold, stylized form. The intense, vibrant colors and simplified shapes create a sense of energy and movement.
In conclusion, Marianne von Werefkin was an important figure in the development of Expressionism and her work reflects her interest in spiritualism and mysticism. Her paintings are characterized by bold colors and simplified forms, conveying a sense of emotion and intensity. Her most important works include "The Tempest," "The Russian Singer," "The Black Virgin," "Self-Portrait with a Lamp," and "The Mandrill."