Galka Scheyer: Enterprising Prophetess of The Blue Four
Lecture by Goria Williams Sander, Curator Norton Simon Museum, Saturday, April 22, 2017
Lyonel Feininger (1871–1956), Wassily Kandinsky (1866–1944), Alexej von Jawlensky (1864–1941), and Paul Klee (1879–1940) exhibited together as “The Blue Four” between 1925 and 1934. This selection of works is an homage to their association, initiated by artist, dealer, and collector Emilie Esther Scheyer (1889–1945) better known by her nickname Galka (Russian for jackdaw). Scheyer was inspired by what she viewed as the artists’ shared spiritual vision and the transcendent power of their work. She also saw great commercial potential for them and had an idea to introduce them to audiences in the United States, where they were still relatively unknown. Shortly after they formalized their association, Scheyer moved to the United States as their agent and champion. She worked tirelessly to promote their work through exhibitions and lectures, seeking to “[offer] to America…the spirit of the art of painting of Central and Eastern Europe today.”
Emilie Esther Scheyer (1889–1945), born to a middle-class Jewish family in Braunschweig, Germany, was training to become a painter, but after meeting Alexej von Jawlensky (1864–1941) in 1916, she transformed herself from artist to art impresario. Jawlensky affectionately called the insightful and energetic Scheyer "Galka" from the Russian word for jackdaw, a clever and gregarious bird. Through Jawlensky, Scheyer entered into the vibrant arts communities of Europe, befriending Bauhaus masters Lyonel Feininger (1871–1956), Wassily Kandinsky (1866–1944) and Paul Klee (1879–1940). She united these artists under the name "The Blue Four,” signaling their camaraderie and spiritual affinities, for the purpose of promoting their work in the United States beginning in 1924. Scheyer's mission to proselytize modernism to the American public was welcomed in California where she captivated audiences through lectures and educational programs first in Oakland and later in Los Angeles. Her groundbreaking exhibitions drawn from her collection stimulated local artistic communities and helped shape California into a center for modern art.
From The Blue Four Galka Scheyer Collection at the Norton Simon Museum.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of Lyonel Feininger's birth. To celebrate this occasion Moeller Fine Art and Moeller Fine Art Projects | The Lyonel Feininger Project will feature this extraordinary artist in exhibitions and events throughout the year. One highlight will be the exhibition, Lyonel Feininger: La ville et la mer, which will be on view at the Musée Jenisch in Vevey, Switzerland from October 15, 2021 to January 9, 2022. The exhibition is curated by Achim Moeller in collaboration with the Musée Jenisch.
View more information here.
Achim Moeller founded The Lyonel Feininger Project in 1987 to prepare the catalogues raisonné, provide certificates of authenticity as well as exhibition consultation, and to conduct and support research related to the artist. The Lyonel Feininger Project, with premises in New York and Berlin, organizes scholarly exhibitions and maintains a 20,000-volume reference library.
Lyonel Feininger: The Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings by Achim Moeller can be accessed at feiningerproject.org.