Alexei Jawlensky
Russian, 1864 – 1941
Abstract Head: Autumn and Dying, 1923
Oil on artist board
13 3/4 x 9 13/16 in. (34.9 x 25 cm.)
21 3/8 × 17 1/2 × 2 1/8 in. (54.3 × 44.5 × 5.4 cm.) (frame)
Gift of Dr. William Adams and Dr. Chester Kratz  1979.13

If the Mood Strikes You
Jawlensky completed several series of paintings on the theme of the human face. This work belongs to the Abstract Heads series, all featuring a grid of horizontal and vertical lines and brightly painted blocks of pigment. The typically long, Li-shaped face with a strong symmetrical structure was first conceived in 1918, and Jawlensky worked on this series until 1935. Gradually abandoning signs of individuality and character, and focusing on the formal elements, Jawlensky believed that “human faces are for me only suggestions to see something else in them-the life of color, seized with a lover’s passion.” Each painting conveyed a mood, often indicated by its title, which suggested the painter’s own mood.