Alexei von Jawlensky was born in Russia in 1864 but spent much of his life in Germany working with other expressionist painters. He started out with a military career, but after seeing an art exhibition at the World Fair in Moscow in 1880, he managed to get himself stationed at St. Petersburg near an art school until he was decommissioned.
Jawlensky met Wassily Kandinsky as a fellow art student at Munich’s Academy of Fine Arts. Later influences included van Gogh, Gauguin and particularly Matisse. In 1912 he joined the "Blue Riders" school formed by Kandinsky and including Paul Klee. The group's work is featured at the Lenbachhaus Museum in Munich.
Meditation the Prayer (1922)
Jawlensky lived in Switzerland in exile from Germany during World War I. During the later years of the war he started to work with more abstract and mystical subjects, particularly by depicting the human face as an icon. In one of his last works (below), the face has been drawn in the form of the cross.