Feininger, Lyonel

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Feininger, Lyonel

Lyonel Feininger (fī´nĬngər), 1871–1956, American painter and illustrator, b. New York City. Feininger studied painting in Berlin, Hamburg, and Paris. He was an illustrator and caricaturist for several periodicals in Paris and in Germany and had a weekly comic page (1906–7) in the Chicago Tribune before he turned to easel painting in 1907. He exhibited with the Blaue Reiter group and taught at the Bauhaus in Germany (1919–32). His canvases appeared in the so-called degenerate art exhibition of 1933. He returned permanently to the United States in 1937, taught at Mills College, and exhibited extensively. Feininger was fascinated by sailboats and skyscrapers, themes that appear in many of his oils and watercolors. He developed a delicate geometric style with interlocking translucent planes, suggestive of both light rays and architectural forms.

See his reminiscences, ed. by J. L. Ness (1974); definitive catalog of his graphic work by L. E. Prasse (1972); biographies by H. Hess (1961) and E. Schuyer (1964); study by T. L. Feininger (1965); The Comic Strip Art of Lyonel Feininger (1994), ed. by B. Blackbeard.



His eldest son, Andreas Feininger, 1906–99, was an American photographer. Born in Paris, he grew up in Germany, studied at the Bauhaus, and became a cabinetmaker and architect. Turning to photography in 1936, he moved to New York City in 1939. There he was a freelance photographer and on the staff (1943–62) of Life magazine. His best known photos are probably his compressed telephoto images of skyscrapers and streetscapes from the 1940s. He also took many pictures of natural objects such as shells, feathers, and bones. Feininger wrote more than 30 books, e.g., The Face of New York (1954).

See his illustrated autobiography (1986).



Lyonel's younger son, T(heodore) Lux Feininger, 1910–2011, was an American photographer and painter. Born in Berlin, he also studied at the Bauhaus and began taking photographs in the 1920s and painting in 1929. He moved to the United States in 1936. He is known for his simplified paintings of old-fashioned sailing vessels, his self portraits, and (from the 1960s on) for his semiabstract paintings in a style reminiscent of his father's. He returned to photography in the 1940s, creating images of ships, trains, and other means of transportation and New York City street scenes.

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