Ascona (Variation). Ca. 1919. Oil on linen-finish laid down on cardboard. Jawlensky/Pieroni-Jawlensky 1107. Weiler 676. Lower left monogrammed. 35.7 x 27.3 cm (14 x 10.7 in), the full sheet.
• From the first series of the "Variation" of a landscape theme. • Elements of the motifs in reminiscence of St. Prex. • In respect of season and the artist's menatl state this work is characterized by a particularly bright mood lighting. • The painting was shown at the first Venice Biennale after WW I in 1920, which was the first to accept contemporary artists. We are grateful to Dr. Ulrike Schmiegelt-Rietig, Museum Wiesbaden, and Dr. Roman Zieglgänsberger, Museum Wiesbaden, for their kind expert advice.
PROVENANCE: Colletion Dr. Max Kugel, Wiesbaden (presumably acquired directly from the artist, until 1954). Magdalene Kugel, Wiesbaden (inherited from aforementioned in 1954). Galerie Großhennig, Düsseldorf. Collection Jan Ahlers, Herford (acquired from aforementioned in 1972 or 1974). Company collection Ahlers. Private collection Switzerland.
EXHIBITION: XII Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte della Città di Venezia, April 15 - October 31, 1920 Venice 1920 (with a label on verso of the frame, here titled "N.26 de la Serie variations sur un Thème") Alexej von Jawlensky, Neues Museum Wiesbaden, 1954, no. 58. Moderne Kunst aus Wiesbadener Privatbesitz, Städtisches Museum, Wiesbaden July 10 - August 25, 1957, cat. no. 83 Galerie Wilhelm Grosshenning, Düsseldorf. Expressionistische Bilder - Sammlung Firmengruppe Ahlers, Kunsthalle Emden November 26, 1994, Kunsthalle Bielefeld March 12 - May 7, 1995, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt December 13, 1995 - February 18, 1996, Germanisches National Museum, Nuremberg October 23, 1996 - February 16, 1997 (verso of the frame with a label) Duitse Expressionisten, Singer Museum Laren March 27 - June 14, 1998, cat. no. 916 (with a label on verso of the frame).
LITERATURE: Clemens Weiler, Alexej von Jawlensky. Der Maler und Mensch, Wiesbaden 1955, no. 31, with illu. Dora Vallier, Geschichte der Malerei 1870-1949, Cologne 1963, illu. o p. 263.
During his stay at St. Prex on Lake Geneva the "Variations" emerged as Alexej von Jawlensky’s main motif. With the outbreak of the First World War he was forced to leave Germany on the spur of the moment and found refuge together with Marianne von Werefkin and Helene Nesnakomoff on Lake Geneva. His “Variations” were based on the view from the window of his small, makeshift studio room. He was captivated by the play of colors over the course of the day and the seasons and rendered variations of the view following a meditative yet systematic method: The famous work group “Variations” was born. First works from 1915 show single trees, scrub and the path as nearly abstract color fields, however, Jawlensky’s "Variations" never entirely dissolved into pure abstraction, which makes them so interesting. Our work is particularly captivating for a perspective that is slightly shifted away from the usual composition. The large oval, actually a cypress with a path on its right as seen from Jawlensky’ window, would usually be placed in the left part of the picture but is found in the center of thsi work. In our "Variation" real circumstances and layouts give in to a more composed solution as Jawlensky had attained an almost symmetrical pictorial arrangement. Interestingly, Jawlensky inscribed this variation ‘Ascona’. It is likely that this work stands for the peace and calm he had found in his exile on Lake Geneva. [EH]