Lyonel Feininger

Lyonel Feininger

Lyonel Charles Adrian Feininger (*July 17, 1871, New York; †January 13, 1956, New York) was a painter and caricaturist of German-American descent.


Lyonel Feininger’s Artistic Career


Lyonel Feininger began taking drawing lessons at the Hamburg Gewerbeschule at the age of sixteen. One year later, in 1888, he was admitted to the Königliche Akademie der Künste in Berlin, where he studied painting under Ernst Hancke. From 1891 he continued his studies at the private art school of the painter Adolf Schlabitz.

Feininger traveled extensively between 1892 and 1909, spending time in Rome, Paris, and London, among other places. During this period his caricatures were being published in a variety of German, French, and American newspapers and magazines. As a result of many years of working as a caricaturist, the artist developed a very distinctive style of painting.

Lyonel Feininger’s Berlin Years

In 1901, the artist married Clara Fürst, with whom he had two daughters. Their marriage ended only four years later, when he met Julia Berg. Feininger and Berg had a son together in 1906.
The couple married two years later. The family settled in Berlin, where the artist joined the Berlin Secession artists’ group in 1909.
In 1911, several of Feininger’s paintings were exhibited at the Salon des Artistes Indépendants (Salon of Independent Artists) in Paris. There Feininger found his true artistic form, inspired by his encounter with the works of the Cubists. Figurative elements were almost completely banished from his cache of motifs. From then on, the city became the dominant theme in his work.
Feininger’s first solo exhibition opened on September 2, 1917 at Der Sturm gallery in Berlin, displaying more than one hundred paintings and other works.

Lyonel Feininger at the Bauhaus

In May 1919, Lyonel Feininger was one of the first masters to be appointed to the State Bauhaus in Weimar by Walter Gropius, where he was the master in charge of the printmaking workshop from 1919 to 1925. With his woodcut Kathedrale des Sozialismus (Cathedral of Socialism) as the famous cover design of the Bauhaus manifesto, Feininger succeeded in epitomizing the founding idea of the Bauhaus, the unity of art and craft.
Feininger considered the church tower a symbol of hope and peace during and after World War I in particular. The artist negated all sense of perspective in his works, assembling motifs of cubic, nested and prismatically fractured forms that lend the works an inner monumentality. Adopting Delaunay’s theory of color, his motifs are always characterized by a slight transparency bathed in light. In the 1920s, he began to juxtapose his cityscapes with depictions of coastal landscapes.
In line with the holistic vision of the Bauhaus, Feininger also devoted himself to music in 1921 and composed his first fugue. In 1924, he joined forces with Alexej von Jawlensky, Paul Klee, and Wassily Kandinsky to form the exhibition group Die Blaue Vier (The Blue Four). Klee, Feininger and Kandinsky taught at the Bauhaus, while Jawlensky worked as an independent artist.
Lyonel Feininger followed the Bauhaus to Dessau and remained a master there without any teaching obligations. One year after the closure of the Bauhaus in 1933, the artist returned to Berlin with his family.

Lyonel Feininger’s Emigration Period

During the National Socialist era, Feininger’s works were officially classed as “degenerate art.”
Feininger began visiting New York as early as 1936 and taught at Mills College in Oakland during the summer months. He moved permanently to the USA in the following year. He continued to teach at Mills College and at Black Mountain College in North Carolina.
Several major exhibitions were organized in the USA in his honor, such as the retrospective at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1944. He was elected president of the Federation of American Painters and Sculptors in 1947.
Feininger died in New York City—his birthplace and eventual adopted home—at the age of eighty-four.

Sources:
• Elger, Dietmar (1991) EXPRESSIONISMUS, Cologne: Taschen Verlag GmbH • bauhaus kooperation: https://www.bauhauskooperation.de/wissen/das-bauhaus/koepfe/meister-und-lehrende/lyonel-feininger/ (last accessed: 08/11/2020)

1871 — Born in New York on July 17th.
1888 — Moves to Berlin. Studies at the Royal Academy of the Arts, Berlin.
1891 — Studies at the private art school run by the painter Adolf Schlabitz.
1901 — Marries Clara Fürst. Birth of the first daughter, Lore.
1902 — Birth of the second daughter, Marianne.
1905 — Feininger meets Julia Berg, a young painter. He leaves Clara.
1906 — Feininger moves into a studio. He meets with artists from Matisse’s circle, Hans Purrmann, Rudolf Grossmann, Oskar Moll, Rudolf Levy. He becomes acquainted with Robert Delaunay and makes friends with Robert Götz and Jules Pascin. His son Andreas is born.
1908 — Marries Julia in London.
1909 — The second son, Laurence, is born. Feininger joins the “Berliner Secession”.
1910 — The third son, Lux, is born.
1911 — In May, Feininger exhibits six of his paintings in the “Salon des Indépendants” in Paris.
1912 — The beginning of a close friendship with Alfred Kubin. Feininger becomes acquainted with the work of Heckel and Schmidt-Rottluff.
1917 — Interned after the USA enters the war.
1919 — He becomes a master craftsman for graphics at the Bauhaus.
1921 — Feininger composes his first fugue.
1924 — Together with Kandinsky, Klee and Jawlensky he founds the group Blaue Vier.
1926 — Moves to Dessau. Feininger is a non-teaching master craftsman at the Bauhaus.
1928 — Awarded a gold medal and the Düsseldorf prize for the painting Architektur III.
1932 — The Bauhaus in Dessau is closed.
1933 — In March Feininger leaves Dessau and returns to Berlin.
1936 — Feininger holds a summer class at Mills College.
1937 — Leaves Germany. Summer at Mills College.
1943 — Feininger receives the Worcester Museum of Art prize.
1944 — Feininger meets Mark Tobey and Fernand Léger.Together with Marsden Hartley he has a major retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, organized by Alfred Barrs.
1945 — During the summer Feininger holds a summer class at Black Mountain College, North Carolina.
1947 — He is elected President of the Federation of American Painters and Sculptors.
1956 — Feininger dies in New York on January 13th.

© Copyright Galerie Utermann 2020

© Copyright Galerie Utermann 2020

© Copyright Galerie Utermann 2020

Galerie Utermann, Silberstraße 22, 44137 Dortmund

Galerie Utermann, Silberstraße 22, 44137 Dortmund

Galerie Utermann, Silberstraße 22, 44137 Dortmund