Auf dem Ausguck (On the Lookout)
Woodcut on Japan paper
6 x 9 1/8 inches (14,9 x 22,9 cm)
Alte Seebären (Old shellbacks)
Woodcut on Japan paper
5 1/8 x 7 3/8 inches (12,8 x 18,6 cm)
Coloured lithograph on thinnish card (postcard)
9 x 7 inches (22,7 x 17,4 cm)
Card 2 from a series of 20 postcards (with an original edition of 2000 copies each), published 1923 on the occasion of the Bauhaus exhibition in Weimar
According to the WVZ, our almost singular print is one of four prints of the first state. The only published and known print of this version, but on a different paper, is in the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Later, card 2 from a series of 20 postcards published on the occasion of the Bauhaus exhibition in Weimar 1923 is printed from this motif and the first state.
Our copy embodies Feininger's love for the medium of woodcut - still almost self-taught, he produced a rich body of work in this technique from 1918 onwards. The motif cut in wood impressively demonstrates the power and charisma of Feininger's expressionist woodcut, which gives him the opportunity not to reproduce events in nature or architectural motifs - in this case a church - true to nature, but to reduce their forms to the most elementary. The church with all the parts of the building has been broken down into the prismatic-cubist formal structure typical of Feininger and is already highly abstracted.
6 1/2 x 4 1/4 inches (16,6 x 10,7 cm)
The year in which our enchanting print Village was created coincides with a period that is regarded as a turning point in Lyonel Feininger's life: He moves from Paris to Berlin and begins work on his famous grotesque and mummery pictures - a development from an extremely innovative caricaturist to an independent draughtsman and painter. Most likely created between May and August 1908, this sheet is part of a series of figurative architectural drawings.
The composition, characterised by the interplay of architecture with whimsical, silhouetted figures in a village square, preoccupied the artist even longer and inspired him in 1911 to paint "Häuser und Menschen" (Houses and People) (also called "Sonnenaufgang"), which has presumably been lost. In comparing the two, the differences and the significance of the small drawing, which is many times more dynamic and spontaneous, become clear. It is by no means to be regarded as a mere preliminary study, but rather as a small masterpiece in its own right (this is also attested to by the artist's irregular blue framing). "Village" is an indication that Feininger will revolutionise the architectural motif in painting.
Merry Christmas (Three Figures)
Watercolor, ink and gold colour on wove paper
2 1/2 x 4 1/8 inches (6,4 x 10,2 cm)
Etching on wove paper
7 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches (17,9 x 23,6 cm)
The printing plate was brought to Paris in the early 1950s, where it was cleaned of any signs of oxidation. Subsequently, a small edition of 25 copies was printed for the artist, which also includes our perfectly preserved sheet.
The etching is a reinterpretation of the unfortunately lost version in oil from 1912: "I commenced an etching last night [...] of the church of Teltow after the same composition as the oil [...]." (See WVZ).
The technique of etching presents the artist with a very special challenge. With “Teltow, 1” he achieved a masterpiece. In contrast to drawings and woodcuts, his etching is filigree, rich in nuances, full of transparency and flooded with light. Here, too, reality is distorted in favor of expressive expression. The artist himself makes clear how novel and significant Feininger's work is: “I have finished the etching of Teltow church, have washed it off and it looks promising. I think I have started on a new line of works with this one, no amalgamation, pure graphic without picturesque addition [...] ".
Treptow on the Rega
Pencil on wove paper (perforated at the upper margin and pierced by the artist)
8 1/8 x 5 1/2 inches (20,5 x 14,1 cm)
Our drawing was made in 1925, the year the Bauhaus in Weimar was closed. As in the previous year, Feininger spent this summer in Deep, which lies at the mouth of the Rega River in Pomerania on the Baltic Sea. He visited the nearby towns of Cammin, Greifenberg, Kolberg and "Treptow", among others.
Once again, this drawing shows how rich and artistically valuable Feininger's "nature notes" are. As a kind of affair of the artist's heart, they have fundamental significance for his oeuvre.
Über Lyonel Feininger
Born: 1871 in New York
Died: 1956 in New York
Lyonel Feininger was born in New York on 17 July 1871, the son of a concert violinist and a singer and pianist. In 1887, at the age of 16, he accompanied his parents on a concert tour to Europe. With his parents' permission, the young Feininger first attended drawing and painting classes at the Gewerbeschule in Hamburg. A year later he passed the entrance examination to the Königliche Kunst-Akademie in Berlin, where he studied from 1888 to 1892. In Berlin Feininger began working for newspapers and publishers early on, and the demand for his illustrations and caricatures was enormous. From 1905 onwards, Feininger increasingly devoted himself to printmaking methods, although the majority of his outstanding woodcuts were only produced 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 initially still had a distinctly Impressionist-Naturalist tinge. Feininger's path from sought-after caricaturist to artist was a constant experimentation with a wide variety of techniques and artistic means of expression and was only to be steered in a groundbreaking direction for him by a Cubist experience in Paris in 1911: Impressions of nature had to be "inwardly transformed and crystallised [!]", he stated in a letter to his second wife Julia as early as 1907 - an attitude that would later lead to geometrically reduced imagery. And it ushered in a decisive artistic chapter for which the artist is still admired today: to make the world crystalline. In 1917, his first solo exhibition took place in the Berlin gallery "Der Sturm", and two years later he was one of the first masters Walter Gropius appointed to the Bauhaus in 1919. In the same year, as a master for the graphic workshop, Feininger produced his famous title woodcut "Cathedral" for the "Bauhaus Manifesto". From 1926 to 1933, Feininger lived in Dessau. After the Bauhaus relocation, he was still a master craftsman, but without teaching duties. In 1926 he forms the group "The Blue Four" with Klee, Kandinsky and Jawlensky. In 1929-31 he produced the iconic Halle pictures. In 1937 Feininger leaves Germany and returns to the country of his birth. 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 in New York City on 13 January 1956.