Alexei von Jawlensky was born in 1864 in Torzhuk (Russia). He enrolls the Alexander Military School in Moscow. He decides to become an artist and studies under I. Repin at the Saint Petersburg Academy of Art (1889-1896). In 1896 he moves to Munich and studies with A. Azbe. He meets Kandinsky. His work is influenced by lubok and Russian folk art. He travels to Paris with his companion M. Werefkin and is introduced to works by Gauguin and van Gogh. In 1905 he participates in the Salon d’Automne and meets H. Matisse. He befriends the Nabis and finds mutual interests with P. Sérusier. Jawlensky works in Murnau with Kandinsky (1908-1909).
He paints colorful landscapes and portraits. He cofounds the Neue künstlervereinigung münchen (1911) and in 1912 joins the Blue Rider group. He meets F. Marc and E. Nolde among others. He treats his portraits in an expressive colored psychological approach. He participates at the Neue Münchner Sezession (Munich, 1914). At the outbreak of W.W.I. he moves to Switzerland. Between1917-1919 he creates his Mystical Heads and Icons aiming to reduce figurative traits to abstract lines, forms and colors. In 1921 he starts his Abstract Heads and later his Geometric Heads. Jawlensky is among the cofounders of the Blue Four group (1924). In 1933 his work is declared as degenerate art by the National Socialists. He continues to paint abstract landscapes, portraits and still life. His dark colors reflect his melancholic state of mind and declining health. Von Jawlensky dies in 1941.