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Artists Marianne von Werefkin
Marianne von Werefkin Photo

Marianne von Werefkin

Russian-German-Swiss Expressionist Painter

Movements and Styles: Expressionism, Der Blaue Reiter

Born: September 10, 1860 - Tula, Russia

Died: February 6, 1938 - Ascona, Switzerland

Marianne von Werefkin Timeline

Quotes

"Any art is a concentrated feeling of love elevated to a world view and translated into an artistic language of symbols".
Marianne von Werefkin
"Art is not hysteria. Art is as natural to man as is thought, it is a normal function of his brain. Art is observation and consciousness. It is not an instinct, vague, indecisive, sickly. Art is an eternal source - life, and an unlimited expression, the individual. These two elements, well-adapted, make masterpieces."
Marianne von Werefkin
"My eyes are magical glass [when looking at] the outside world, and it can transform a lot into bewitching beauty."
Marianne von Werefkin
"Color bites at my heart."
Marianne von Werefkin
"I want to work. It is an obsession. I am gnawed at the heart by an excruciating desire to manipulate color...I see figures, with an incredible intensity, pass before my eyes."
Marianne von Werefkin
"Am I a true artist? Yes, yes, yes. Am I a woman? Alas. Yes, yes, yes."
Marianne von Werefkin
"I am a woman, I lack every [ability for] creation. I can understand everything and cannot create.. .I don't have the words to express my ideal".
Marianne von Werefkin
"I adore my life: it is filled with so much true poetry, fine feelings, things many have no idea about. I despise my life, which, being rich, allowed itself to be crammed into the confines of conventions. Between these two opinions pulsates my soul always longing for beauty and good".
Marianne von Werefkin
"Our passion must be like our love - illusory and artistic, having no other end than the desire to be beautiful".
Marianne von Werefkin
"All bores me in the world of facts, I see an end, a limit to all things and my heart thirsts for the infinite and for eternity. How to speak of the feeling, so serious, that has seized me?"
Marianne von Werefkin
"I want a lovely life; in order for it to be, harmony and style are necessary. I avow mine to the key of aesthetic sentiment - the constant permanent creation everywhere and in every one."
Marianne von Werefkin
"I love art with a passion so selfless that when I believed that I saw that I would be able to serve it better by abstaining myself, so that another [Jawlensky] could succeed - I did it."
Marianne von Werefkin
"I have hell in my soul. I did not trust myself and that is why my life went to the devil. I have a creative soul and was a slave to idleness."
Marianne von Werefkin

"The artist is the only one who detaches himself from life, opposes his personality against it, he is the only one who orders things as he wishes them to be in place of things as they are. Thus for him life is not a fait accompli, it is something to remake, to do again."

Synopsis

Writing about the diaries which Marianne von Werefkin composed during the 1900s, the writer Natalya Tolstaya noted that they reveal "a soul molded by much suffering and many a loss, the soul of a woman and an artist". This statement might be taken to apply to Werefkin's entire body of work, which was shaped not only by a century's worth of Russian and European artistic tradition, but also by an intense social and spiritual consciousness, and by the peculiar pressures brought to bear on her as a woman in a creative world dominated by men. Her work, still undervalued in relation to that of her peers, including Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee, can now be recognized as an important contribution to European Expressionism, her career as breaking down various barriers to women's acceptance as modern artists.

Key Ideas

Various members of the Expressionist movement, including Wassily Kandinksy and Marc Chagall, were of Russian heritage. But Marianne von Werefkin's work provides us with the most striking evidence of the thread that runs through modern painting from late-19th-century Russian Realism to the emotive abstraction of early-twentieth-century Northern-European art. Tutored by the great Realist painter Ilya Repin, Werefkin applied the principles of social and religious awareness she had learned in her youth to the Expressionist idiom of her maturity, finding in the principle of abstraction a new way of expressing the human spirit.
As one of the only women artists attached to the Expressionist movement, Werefkin staked out new ground for female painters. Abandoning her practice for a decade in the 1900s to support the career of her companion artist Alexej von Jawlensky, Werefkin's recognition was set back further when Wassily Kandinsky's influential book Concerning the Spiritual on Art (1911-12) appeared, making - so Werefkin claimed - uncredited use of her ideas. However, from the time of her Self-Portrait in a Sailor's Blouse (1893) onwards, the force of Werefkin's character had been clear, and by the time of her death she had found her own place and status in artistic culture.
Werefkin's works are often populated by cramped, hunched figures in black, generally women, generally implied to be impoverished city-dwellers or laborers. While the Expressionist movement had always been defined by a form of social awareness, Werefkin's work expresses the human concerns underlying the movement more clearly than most. She never followed Kandinksy down the path of pure, lyrical abstraction, always keeping her compositions tethered around recognizable human subjects placed in the rural or urban landscape.

Biography

Marianne von Werefkin Photo

Childhood

Marianna Wladimirowna Werewkina was born in Tula, a small city 120 miles south of Moscow, into a wealthy family of the Russian nobility. Her father, Vladimir Nikolaevich Verevkin, was commander of the Ekaterinburg Regiment of the Russian Army, while her mother, Elizabeth Daraga, was a baroness and painter. Werefkin's childhood was spent travelling across Russia as her father was assigned to different locations, though family summers were always spent at the Blagodat Estate in modern-day Lithuania, assigned to her father for his services during the Crimean War by Alexander II. It was there, in her own private studio, that Marianna began to paint.

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Marianne von Werefkin Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Marianne von Werefkin
Interactive chart with Marianne von Werefkin's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Eugène DelacroixEugène Delacroix
Ilya RepinIlya Repin
Paul GauguinPaul Gauguin
Vincent van GoghVincent van Gogh
Edvard MunchEdvard Munch

Personal Contacts

Alexej von JawlenskyAlexej von Jawlensky
Wassily KandinskyWassily Kandinsky
Gabriele Münter
Franz MarcFranz Marc
Else Lasker-Schüler

Movements

RomanticismRomanticism
RealismRealism
SymbolismSymbolism
SynthetismSynthetism
CloisonnismCloisonnism

Influences on Artist
Marianne von Werefkin
Marianne von Werefkin
Years Worked: 1874 - 1938
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Franz MarcFranz Marc
August MackeAugust Macke
Albert BlochAlbert Bloch
Lyonel FeiningerLyonel Feininger

Personal Contacts

Alexej von JawlenskyAlexej von Jawlensky
Gabriele Münter
Wassily KandinskyWassily Kandinsky

Movements

ExpressionismExpressionism
Der Blaue ReiterDer Blaue Reiter
Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism
Tachisme
Neo-ExpressionismNeo-Expressionism

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Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Sarah Frances Dias

Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Greg Thomas

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Sarah Frances Dias
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Greg Thomas
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