Lyonel Feininger

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Lyonel Feininger, <i>Quimper</i>, 1931 watercolor and ink on paper
Lyonel Feininger, Quimper, 1931 watercolor and ink on paper

Artist Bio

1871
Charles (Lyonel) Feininger is born at 85 East 8th Street in New York City on July 17. His father, Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Feininger, a violin player and composer, was born in Durlach, Baden. His mother, Elizabeth Cecilia Feininger (née Lutz), a singer and pianist, was born in New Jersey of German descent. He spends his childhood in New York. At age nine he is given violin lessons by his father but is more interested in drawing and building model ships. He is fascinated by steam engines and locomotives. During the concert tours of his parents he frequently stays with his sisters, Helen and Elsa, in Connecticut and with his grandparents in Columbia, South Carolina.


1887
Works as an errand boy for a Wall Street brokerage company and lives in Plainfield, New Jersey. Travels on October 19 from New York to Hamburg to join his parents. Although they wanted him to study the violin, he decides to study drawing at the General Vocational School in Hamburg.


1888
Thirteen of his drawings are shown at the Easter Exhibition of the General Vocational. Moves to Berlin and enrolls at the Royal Academy of the Arts. Starts drawing caricatures.


1889
Spends the summer in Harzburg in the Harz Mountains.


1890
Publishes 14 caricatures in the magazine Humoristische Blätter. Send to the Jesuit College St. Servais in Liège.


1891
Moves back to Berlin. Attends summer classes at the art school of Adolf Schlabitz. In fall he resumes his studies at the Royal Academy of the Arts.


1892
Spends the summer on Rügen on the Baltic Sea. Moves in November to Paris where he attends life-drawing classes at the academy of the Italian sculptor Filippo Colarossi.


1893
Moves back to Berlin. Begins working as freelance illustrator and caricaturist for German and American newspapers and magazines.


1894
Works for Harper's Young People and Harper's Round Table.


1895
Works for Ulk (until 1906).


1898
Publishes caricatures in Ulk, Lustige Blätter (since 1896) and Das Narrenschiff as well as the Narrenrad.


1900
Meets the pianist Clara Fürst, daughter of the painter Gustav Fürst.


1901
Marries Clara Fürst. His first daughter, Eleonore (Lore), is born on December 14. Shows works at the exhibition of the Berliner Secession.


1902
On December 18 his second daughter, Marianne, is born. Publishes drawings in the Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung.


1903
Illustrates Max Dreyer's play Das Tal des Lebens.


1904
Thirteen caricatures are displayed at the Great Berlin Art Exhibition.


1905
Meets Julia Berg (née Lilienfeld). Both separate from their respective spouses.


1906
The Chicago Sunday Tribune commissions him for two comic strips series. Beginning in May The Kin-der Kids and Wee Willie Winkie's World are published in the Chicago Sunday Tribune. Frequently travels to Weimar, where Julia studies at the Grossherzoglich-
Sächsische Kunstschule. Rents a studio in Weimar and visits for the first time Gelmeroda. Gelmeroda is to become one of his leitmotifs. Travels in the summer to Paris. Studies again at the Académie Colarossi and frequents the Café du Dôme. His first son, Andreas Bernhard Lyonel, is born on December 27.


1907
The contract with the Chicago Sunday Tribune is dissolved, because he doesn't want to relocate to the USA. Executes his first painting on April 7. Continues to work as caricaturist. Spends the summer on Rügen.


1908
Travels in spring and fall to London. Marries Julia in September in London. Moves with his family to Berlin-Zehlendorf. Illustrates the fairytale collection Norwegische Volks-Märchen. Continues to work as caricaturist for Lustige Blätter, die Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung, Le Témoin and Sporthumor.


1909
Becomes a member of the Berliner Secession group. His second son, Laurence Karl Johann, is born on April 5. Spends the summer in Heringsdorf on Usedom.


1910
His third son, Theodore Lux (T. Lux) is born on June 11. Exhibits for the first time a painting at the 20. Exhibition of the Berliner Secession.


1911
Exhibits six paintings at the Salon des Indépendants in Paris. Cubism leaves a deep impression on him. Works for the magazine Licht und Schatten. Spends the summer again in Heringsdorf.


1912
Beginning of the friendship with Alfred Kubin. Becomes acquainted with the Expressionist group Die Brücke and meets Erich Heckel and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. Works on his first architectural compositions. Paints a mural for the Berliner Secession.


1913
Finds a studio in Weimar and explores surrounding villages; these will be his most important sources for future paintings. Begins designing toy trains and negotiates with Otto Loewenstein about mass producing them. The industrial production will be stopped by the outbreak of World War I. Exhibits, on invitation of Franz Marc, with the group Der Blaue Reiter. Participates at the First German Autumn Salon of Herwarth Walden's gallery Der Sturm in Berlin.


1914
Outbreak of World War I.


1917
The USA declares war on April 6. As an American he experiences great difficulties in Germany. He gets a permission to travel in the summer to Braunlage in the Harz
Mountains. Herwarth Walden’s gallery Der Sturm organizes Feininger's first solo show.


1918
Begins, the latest in May, executing woodcuts. Cuts until the end of the year 117 woodblocks. Spends the summer again in Braunlage. Becomes a member of the Novembergruppe and meets the architect Walter Gropius. Solo exhibition at the gallery Neue Kunst Hans Goltz in Munich.


1919
Appointed as master of form at the Bauhaus in Weimar. His woodcut, Cathedral, illustrates the Bauhaus manifesto. Exhibits more than 109 woodcuts at the gallery Emil Richter in Dresden. Throughout the year he executes 76 woodcuts. Becomes a member of the Dresdner Secession.


1920
First museum exhibitions, held at the Angermuseum in Erfurt and the Landesmuseum in Weimar. Moves permanently to Weimar.


1921
Executes twelve woodcuts for the first publication of the Bauhaus. Composes the first of his fugues. The Detroit Institute of Arts becomes the first American museum to acquire a painting, Raddampfer II, 1913, by Feininger.


1922
Travels during the summer amongst others to Lüneburg and with Walter Gropius and Wassily Kandinsky to Timmendorf on the Baltic Sea.


1923
Works several weeks at a studio at the Angermuseum in Erfurt.

1924
First monograph about Feininger published by Willi Wolfradt. On Emmy (Galka) Scheyer’s initiative, forms together with Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky and Alexej von Jawlensky the artist group Blue Four. Spends the summer in Deep on the Baltic Sea, which is to become his prime summer destination for more than a decade.


1925
Due to political pressure the Bauhaus in Weimar is closed. Feininger’s acclaim in the United States continues to grow. In New York, Galka Scheyer organizes the first exhibition of the Blue Four.


1926
The Bauhaus relocates to Dessau and Feininger moves into one of the master’s houses. On his request he discontinues teaching but remains a master at the Bauhaus. Ten of his woodcuts are published by the Euphorion-Verlag.


1927
Alfred H. Barr, Jr., the director of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, visits Feininger in Dessau. Exhibitions in Germany and the United States further establish his reputation.


1929
Represented with seven works in the exhibition “Paintings by Nineteen Living American” at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. The city of Halle commissions him to execute one oil painting of the town. He moves into a studio at the tower of the museum in the Moritzburg. In the next two years he will execute eleven paintings and numerous drawings and watercolors of Halle.


1931
Retrospective exhibitions are shown at Neue Kunst Fides in and subsequently at the Folkwang-Museum, Essen, and travels the Nationalgalerie, Berlin.


1933
Spends the summer in Deep, and the fall and winter in Berlin-Wannsee.

1934
Rents an apartment in Berlin-Siemensstadt.


1935
His work has been categorized as degenerate art by the Nazi regime. Alfred Neumeyer invites him to teach at Mills College in Oakland, California.


1936
Travels with Julia to New York and then to San Diego. Teaches during the summer at Mills College where his first one-person show in the United States is held. Travels back to Berlin in the fall via Hamburg and Stockholm.


1937
After more than 50 years he decides to leave Germany. On June 11 Feininger and his wife leave permanently for the USA. More than 400 works are confiscated by the Nazis. Twenty-two of them are displayed in the exhibition “Entartete Kunst (Degenerate Art).” Teaches again a summer course at Mills College. Settles in New York. Designs murals for the Marine Transportation Building at the 1939 New York World's Fair.


1938
Moves to 235 East 22nd Street where he will live until his death. Designs murals for the Masterpieces of Art Building at the 1939 New York World's Fair.


1939
Paints his first painting after his arrival in the USA.


1940
Manhattan skyscrapers become a new theme in Feininger’s work. Spends this and the following summers in Falls Village, Connecticut.


1942
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, awards him a price for the painting Gelmeroda XIII, 1936, which is shown in the “Artists for Victory” exhibition.


1943
Solo-exhibition at Willard Gallery, New York. Awarded price by the Worcester Art Museum.


1944
Begin of his friendship with Mark Tobey. First major retrospective with Marsden Hartley at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.


1945
Teaches summer course at Black Mountain College in Ashville, North Carolina. Spends the fall and the summer of the following years in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.


1947
Elected president of the Federation of American Painters and Sculptors.


1949
Spends the summer in Center Moriches, Long Island, and the fall in Falls Village and Boston. Laureate at the International Exhibition of the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh. Exhibits together with Jacques Villon at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. Spends the summer in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Designs murals for the ship SS Constitution.


1951
Spends the summer at Walter Gropius’ house in Lincoln, Massachusetts.


1953
Spends the summer in Josef Albers’ in New Haven, Connecticut.


1954
Mark Tobey visits him in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.


1955
Elected member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters. Becomes honorary vice-president of the Federation of American Painters and Sculptors.


1956
Feininger dies on January 13 in his apartment in New York City.

Selected Press

Ostsee Zeitung
"Kunstwerke zogen aus New Yorker Galerie in die Bernsteinstadt um"
September 1, 2011
Download PDF (1.3 MB)

Past Gallery Exhibitions

NEW YORK
Lyonel Feininger: Master Printmaker
EXTENDED Through 27 JUNE
March 19 - June 27, 2014
NEW YORK
Crosscurrents in Modern Art
November 5, 2013 - January 21, 2014
BERLIN
Father and Son: Lyonel and T. Lux Feininger
Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings, Woodcuts, and Locomotives
February 25 - April 12, 2013
NEW YORK
Crosscurrents in Modern Drawing
January 8 - February 15, 2013
NEW YORK
Between Friends:
Balla + Dorazio
Feininger + Tobey

November 5 - December 21, 2012
NEW YORK
Moeller New York Summer Exhibition
July 2 - September 14, 2012
BERLIN
Lyonel Feininger: Dawn of a New Day
Murals for the 1939 New York World's Fair
February 14 - April 14, 2012
NEW YORK
ONLINE EXHIBITION
Lyonel Feininger: Rare Woodcuts from the Artist's Personal Collection
June 26 - October 15, 2011
BERLIN
Lyonel Feininger
Drawings and Watercolors from the Julia Feininger Estate
March 29 - May 28, 2011
NEW YORK
Masterworks of Six Centuries:
Crosscurrents in Modern Art

Feininger ∙ Kandinsky ∙ Dubuffet ∙ Michaux ∙ Dorazio
May 3 - 27, 2011
BERLIN
Feininger in the Harz
November 17, 2009 - January 9, 2010
BERLIN
Your Uncle Feininger
Comics, Fairy Tales, and Toys
April 28 - June 20, 2009
NEW YORK
Lyonel Feininger: Unique and Rare Prints from Quedlinburg
September 20 - November 21, 2007
NEW YORK
Lyonel Feininger & Mark Tobey
Years of Friendship 1944 - 1956
October 12 - November 24, 2004