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Lyonel Feininger

1871 - 1956
New York, United States

6 Works exhibited on Kooness

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Lyonel Feininger was born in New York on July 17, 1871, as son of a concert violinist and a
singer and pianist. At the age of 16 he accompanied his parents on a concert tour to Europe in
1887. With the permission of his parents, the young Feininger first attended the drawing and
painting class at the trade school in Hamburg, and a year later he passed the entrance
examination at the Royal Art Academy in Berlin, where he studied from 1888 to 1892. Feininger
started working for newspapers and publishers early on in Berlin, and the demand for his
illustrations and caricatures was enormous. From 1905 onwards Feininger devoted himself
increasingly to printmaking methods, with a large part of his outstanding woodcuts only being
made between 1918-20, for which he is still celebrated today as the most important woodcutter
of the 20th century. In 1907 he made his first attempts at oil painting, which were initially
colored in a clearly impressionistic-naturalistic way. Feininger's path from sought-after
caricaturist to artist is a constant testing of the most diverse techniques and artistic means of
expression and was only to be steered in a direction that was groundbreaking for him through
an experience of Cubism in 1911 in Paris: impressions of nature had to be "internally reshaped
and crystallized [!]" he stated in a letter to his second wife Julia as early as 1907 - an attitude that
later resulted in the geometrically reduced imagery. And ushered in a decisive artistic chapter for
which the artist is still admired today: making the world crystalline.
His first solo exhibition took place in the Berlin gallery “Der Sturm” in 1917, and two years later
he was one of the first masters to be appointed by Walter Gropius to the Bauhaus in 1919. As a
master for the graphic workshop, Feininger's famous woodcut "Cathedral" was created for the
"Bauhaus Manifesto" in the same year. Feininger lived in Dessau from 1926 to 1933, and
although he was still a master craftsman after the Bauhaus resettlement, he did not have an
obligation to teach. In 1926 he formed the community “Die Blauen Vier” with Klee, Kandinsky
and Jawlensky. The iconic pictures of the German city of Halle were created in 1929-31.
Feininger left Germany in 1937 and returned to his native country. About 400 of his works are
confiscated by the National Socialists as "degenerate". In 1947 Feininger became president of
the "Federation of American Painters and Sculptors". Lyonel Feininger died on January 13, 1956 in NY.