Marianne von Werefkin
Born. 10.09.1860 in Tula
Died. 06.02.1938 in Ascona
Russian painter and expressionist
About the artist
Marianne von Werefkin was born on 10 September 1860 in the Russian town of Tula. She had her first art lessons at fourteen in 1874 and was also tutored by Ilya Repin, a painter of Russian Realism. Unfortunately, due to a hunting accident in which she shot herself in the right hand in 1888, she had to learn how to hold a paintbrush again. With an abundance of determination and lots of practice, she was able to hold the materials again.
In 1892 she met her protégé Alexej von Jawlensky and taking her servant she moved with him to Munich in 1896. During this time, she studied with other Russians in Munich at Anton Ažbè‘s art school. She had a long break from painting so that Jawlensky could continue with his work.
In 1907 she created her first expressionist work following Paul Gauguin’s and Louis Anquetin’s style of “surface painting”, while also highlighting the influential ideas of Edvard Munch. Werefkin and Jawlensky spent several periods working with Kandinsky and Münter in 1908, after visiting the enchanting town of Murnau near Munich, where Gabriele Münter owned a house. The four artists would often frequently paint together in the open air in and around Murnau.
Werefkin started a Salon at her Munich apartment which became popular for members of the German and Russian avant-garde who would later start the Neue Künstlervereinigung München (New Association of Artists in Munich, NKVM) and Blaue Reiter.
Founded in 1909, The NKVM held exhibitions and programs. At the first touring exhibition of NKVM, Werefkin exhibited Washerwomen (1909) and The Storm (1907). The simplified form and psychological content of works relate to the sources Werefkin admired at this time.
It was at these meetings at Werefkin and Jawlensky’s home that Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc, met each other on New Year’s Eve in 1911. They would eventually distance themselves from NKVM and form Der Blaue Reiter (Blue Rider). The group included Russian emigrants, including Wassily Kandinsky, Alexej von Jawlensky, and several native German artists, such as Franz Marc, August Macke, and Gabriele Münter. Werefkin began exhibiting together with Blaue Reiter in 1913.
At the beginning of World War I, Werefkin and Jawlensky moved to Geneva and then on to Zurich. In 1918, after separating from Jawlensky, Werefkin moved to Ascona, on Lago Maggiore, this is where she painted many of her landscapes in an expressionist style.
Marianne von Werefkin died in Ascona on 6 February 1938 and was buried in Ascona‘s Russian graveyard.