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Large Meditation No. 10, 1936

Alexei Jawlensky

Russian, 1864-1941
Oil on textured wove paper mounted on cardboard
9-7/8 x 7 in. (25.1 x 17.8 cm)
Norton Simon Museum, The Blue Four Galka Scheyer Collection
P.1954.29.07
© Norton Simon Museum

Not on view

Jawlensky worked to develop his compositions from within rather than from without. "I am not so much searching for new forms," he said, "but I want to go deeper; not to progress in breadth but in depth." This searching for harmony and perfection reached its final form in 1934 with his series of Meditations. The head is now reduced to its most minimal components. Black lines delineate his framework of nose, mouth, brows, and eyes. This grid floats on a background of densely colored, almost tangible brushstrokes. It has been noted frequently that the black lines of the eyes and nose form the Eastern Orthodox cross. The human face has been condensed into a symbol of universal tragedy.

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