The era of painting that comes under the banner of ‘Expressionism’ has given us a wide range of artists to examine. When one of those artists is a woman, then it is time to celebrate as this woman would have been working against all the odds to produce work that she believed in during the period she was active.
One such artist is Marianne Von Werefkin. Born in Tsarist Russia in 1860, Marianna Vladimirovna Verëvkina came from a wealthy, aristocratic family. Daughter of a General, Marianna was brought up with all the privileges that service in the Russian army could bring. Marianna’s mother, an artist, gave her daughter the right to follow her dream of painting once the family realised she had a talent.
However, all artists seem to have the gene for suffering and a hunting accident in 1888 where Marianna shot herself in the hand and lost the middle finger of her dominant hand. This did not stop her from painting and her work began to be noticed.
Her long term relationship with fellow artist Alexej von Jawlensky did put a stop to her painting for some years. The two met through Marianna’s tutor Ilya Repin in 1892 and, despite her work being the more profitable, Marianna gave up her career to support and promote Jawlensky.
The two moved to Germany in 1896 where Marianne started up a salon for artists and from this developed the New Association of Artists in Munich, NKVM, which included Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc who later moved on to start the Blue Rider group.
It took Marianne ten years to begin painting again and influenced by Edvard Munch, her painting took on the features of expressionist painting. Scroll through the slide show to see just how she took these influences and made them into her own.
World War One brought poverty to Marianne, and her relationship with Jawlensky was strained; his love affairs were a major obstacle and one that left Marianne lonely despite them moving to Switzerland. Her pension from Russia was no more and their life became increasingly difficult.
Supported by her friends, Marianne’s output continued. The mountains of Switzerland were an obvious source of inspiration. Jawlensky left her to marry the mother of his child and Marianne continued to work until her death in 1938.
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