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Japanese Flower, 1913

Alexei Jawlensky

Russian, 1864-1941
Oil on cardboard mounted on masonite
21-1/8 x 19-1/2 in. (53.7 x 49.5 cm)
Norton Simon Museum, Museum Purchase
P.1963.36.01
© Norton Simon Museum

Not on view

After serving in the Russian Imperial Guard, Alexei Jawlensky moved to Munich in 1896 to pursue a career in painting. Studying alongside Wassily Kandinsky, with whom he would become close friends, and acquainting himself with French avant-garde painting, by the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, Russian-born Jawlensky was nevertheless considered a key fixture in the development of German modern art. His striking palette owed much to an interest in Henri Matisse and Vincent van Gogh, and his simplified forms took their cues from Russian folk painting. Despite his radical stylistic approach, compositional structure remained paramount, as evidenced in this beautifully balanced still life. The three cylindrical forms of the Japanese figurine, the vase and the pitcher establish a regularized rhythm across the canvas, while the circular groupings of fruit and flowers reflect the stable, however spiritual, triangular layouts of the Russo-Byzantine icons of his youth.

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