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Lyonel Feininger (1871 - 1956)

Lot 40: f - LYONEL FEININGER

Sotheby's

June 21, 2004
London, United Kingdom

More About this Item


Description

Painted in 1929.

signed Feininger and dated 29 (upper left); signed L. Feininger, dated 1929 and inscribed Lüneburg on the stretcher

oil on canvas

To be included in the second volume of Lyonel Feininger, The Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings being prepared by Achim Moeller.

Dimensions

108.5 by 87.7 cm.

42 3/4 by 34 1/2 in.

Date

1871-1956

Exhibited

Kassel, Kunstverein zu Kassel, Orangerie Kassel, Vierte Grosse Kunstausstellung 1929, 1929, no. 86
Kiel, Schleswig-Holsteinischer Kunstverein, Kunsthalle zu Kiel, Heinrich Stegemann - Lionel Feininger - Jussuf Abbo. Gemälde, Aquarelle, Graphik, Plastik, 1929, no. 115
Prague, Kunstverein für Böhmen, Sonderausstellung Lyonel Feininger, 1929-30, no. 11
Dresden, Galerie Neue Kunst Fides and Essen, Museum Folkwang, Lyonel Feininger zum 60. Geburtstag, 1931
Oslo, Kunstnernes Hus, Nyere Tysk Kunst. Maleri og Skulptur, 1932, no. 41
New York, Buchholz Gallery (Curt Valentin); New York, Willard Gallery; Detroit, Institute of Arts and Grosse Point, MI, The Russell A. Alger House, Lyonel Feininger, 1941, no. 18
New York, The Museum of Modern Art (and travelling in America), Lyonel Feininger, Marsden Hartley, 1944-46, illustrated in the catalogue
London, The Tate Gallery, American Painting: From the Eighteenth Century to the Present Day, 1946, no. 83
Cleveland, The Cleveland Museum of Art, The Work of Lyonel Feininger, 1951, no. 17
New York, Willard Gallery; Boston, Museum of Fine Arts and Minneapolis, Institute of Arts, Gables. A Comprehensive Exhibition of Work from 1921 to 1954 Based on One Theme by Lyonel Feininger, 1956-57
San Francisco, Museum of Art; Minneapolis, Institute of Arts; Cleveland, The Cleveland Museum of Art and Buffalo, Albright Knox Art Gallery, Lyonel Feininger - Memorial Exhibition, 1959-60, no. 37
Dallas, Museum of Contemporary Art, Lyonel Feininger: A Retrospective, 1963, no. 26
Minneapolis, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Four Centuries of American Art, 1963-64
Cleveland, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Fifty Years of Modern Art, 1966
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Lyonel Feininger, 1968
Lüneburg, Kulturforum Lüneburg e. V., Lyonel Feininger, Begegnung und Erinnerung Lüneburger Motive 1921-1954, 1991, no. 13, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Literature

Hans Hess, Lyonel Feininger, London, 1961, p. 277, no. 313, catalogued; p. 210, pl. 38, illustrated

Provenance

Staatsgalerie, Dresden (1931; removed in December 1937 as Entartete Kunst)
Buchholz Gallery (Curt Valentin), New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1943

Notes

The beauty inherent in architecture was of primary importance in Feininger's art. With his paintings as well as his graphic work, he continuously developed new approaches to rendering the complexity of three-dimensional form through the use of line and colour. Many of these compositions were influenced by his involvement with the Bauhaus, the avant-garde architecture and design school located in Dessau, where the artist lived between 1926-32. During these years he frequently visited the cities of Deep, Halle and Lüneburg (fig. 1) and painted several compositions of the attenuated spires, peaks and gables of the local Gothic architecture. Among these were a series of paintings depicting gabled roofs (H. Hess, op. cit., nos. 257, 272, & 313; fig. 3), two of which he identified as having been completed in Lüneburg, as well as a number of drawings and sketches (fig. 2). Lüneburg, near Hamburg, was particularly appealing to Feininger for its relationship to the composer Johannes Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), who famously spent his formative years in the city as a member of the choir of the church of St. Michael. Feininger was a life-long admirer of Bach's organ works, and the paintings that he completed in Lüneburg reinforced the deep connection that he felt with the eminent composer.

In this picture from 1929, Feininger used a network of overlapping geometric shapes that vary in degrees of opacity: solid earth-tones for the architecture and transparent shades of green and grey for the sky. The aesthetic is similar to that of the Cubists but the effect here is much more legible; the edifices are abstracted but without compromising their structural integrity. Feininger repeated the interlacing of geometric forms in the sky, but used transparent colours that dissolve the shapes into air. This technique, which the artist called "dual sky," heightens the dimensionality of the negative space while maintaining the ethereal quality of the sky. At the tops of the roofs he uses sharp, intersecting lines, indicative of his skills as a graphic artist, which aid in uniting the architecture with its surrounding space. The harmonious interplay of solids and voids in this picture can indeed be likened to the terse elegance and refinement of a Baroque prelude or fugue; for it was Feininger himself who once wrote: "Bach's spirit is contained in my painting also, and finds its expression there in a different form."

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