German Expressionism

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Lyonel Feininger

American, 1871–1956

Starr Figura, German Expressionism: The Graphic Impulse, New York, The Museum of Modern Art, 2011

American painter, printmaker, draftsman, photographer, who lived in Germany from 1887 until 1937. Became commercially successful cartoonist and illustrator for American and German magazines and newspapers in the 1890s, but after 1908 dedicated himself to painting and fine art. Encountered Cubism in Paris in 1911; thereafter developed style of interlocking, crystalline planes, which carefully structured his preferred subjects of landscapes, village views, the sea, and architecture. His slightly off-kilter, reverberating lines also resonated with Expressionism, tempered with his own typically fanciful point of view. In 1912 met Brücke artists; the following year exhibited with the Blaue Reiter and at the First German Autumn Salon at the Galerie Der Sturm. In 1918, via revolutionary artists’ groups in Berlin, met Walter Gropius, who appointed him to the faculty of the Bauhaus when it opened in 1919; was in charge of its printing workshop until 1925, and remained with the school until 1932.

Created more than four hundred prints between 1906 and 1955, most by 1924. Worked initially in etching and lithography. In 1918, made first of 320 black-and-white woodcuts; would execute more than two hundred of them by 1920. Rarely editioned his prints and typically handprinted them on various exquisite papers.

Following increasing Nazi persecution, returned to the United States in 1937. Nazis declared his art degenerate and removed 378 works from German collections.

Selected Bibliography

Hess, Hans. Lyonel Feininger. New York: Abrams, 1961.

Luckhardt, Ulrich, and Martin Faas, eds. Lyonel Feininger: Die Zeichnungen und Aquarelle. Exh. cat. Hamburg: Hamburger Kunsthalle, 1998.

Mössinger, Ingrid, and Kerstin Drechsel, eds. Lyonel Feininger: Loebermann Collection. Drawings, Watercolors, Prints. Munich: Prestel, 2006.

Prasse, Leona E. Lyonel Feininger: A Definitive Catalogue of His Graphic Work, Etchings, Lithographs, Woodcuts. Cleveland: The Cleveland Museum of Art, 1972.

Heather Hess

Published by Lyonel Feininger

  • Lyonel Feininger. At the Seaside (An der Waterkant). (1912, probably printed in the 1950s)
    Lyonel Feininger
    At the Seaside (An der Waterkant)
    (1912, probably printed in the 1950s)
    Lyonel Feininger. At the Seaside (An der Waterkant). (1912, probably printed in the 1950s)
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