Artist

Lyonel Feininger

Kapelle im Wald, 1943
Oil on canvas
19 x 15 in. (48.3 x 38.1 cm)
SIgned lower left

Quimper, 1931
Watercolor and ink on paper
18 5/8 x 11 1/4 in. (47.3 x 28.6 cm)
Signed lower leff: Feininger
Titled lower center: Quimper
Dated lower right:  3 9 31

Chronology

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 the 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 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 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.