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The Art Story Homepage Artists Lyonel Feininger

Lyonel Feininger

German-American Painter, Printmaker, Cartoonist, Photographer

Lyonel Feininger Photo

Born: July 17, 1871 - New York City, NY

Died: January 13, 1956 - New York City, NY

"Each individual work serves as an expression of our most personal state of mind at that particular moment and of the inescapable, imperative need for release by means of an appropriate act of creation: in the rhythm, form, color, and mood of a picture."

Lyonel Feininger Signature

Summary of Lyonel Feininger

A leader of the Cubo-Expressionist movement and a founding member of the experimental Bauhaus school, Lyonel Feininger embraced abstraction as a way of conveying new vision and utopian aspirations. Although his first success was as the cartoonist of popular newspaper comics, such as "Kin-der-Kids" and "Wee Willie Winkie's World" for the Chicago Sunday Tribune, when he decided to pursue a career in fine art he was enthusiastically embraced by several German Expressionist groups, including Die Brucke and Der Blaue Reiter. Later, he was the first faculty member to be recruited by Walter Gropius for the new Bauhaus school where he led the printmaking workshop. When his work was included in the 1937 Degenerate Art Show, marking him as a target for artistic censorship and surveillance, Feininger returned to America with his family where he continued to produce art and teach.

Key Ideas

Feininger was one of only two American artists to actively participate in the development of Expressionism within the German avant-garde (the other was Marsden Hartley). His connections to artistic centers throughout Europe and America made him an important conduit for transatlantic exchanges of ideas. His paintings combined the faceting and multiple perspectives of Cubism with Expressionistic color and brushwork to create an influential hybrid of Cubo-Expressionism.
The first instructor hired at the Bauhaus, Feininger remained a constant presence at the school until it was shuttered by the Nazis in 1933. His emphasis on building a community of artists and his belief in the revolutionary possibilities of art making provided an important model for other instructors and their students (including his own children). When he left Germany in 1937, he brought to America the innovative pedagogy of the Bauhaus, and (along with other Bauhaus instructors who relocated to the US) he helped revolutionize the teaching of art in the country to include more experimentation and less reliance on the study of traditional or canonical art.

Lyonel Feininger Artist Overview Page

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