Canadians View First-Ever Feininger Exhibit

Montreal, Canada.- The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is proud to present "Lyonel Feininger: From Manhatten to the Bauhaus", the first major retrospective of the artist's work to be held in Canada, from January 20th through May 13th. The art collector of Art Kabinett network will be sure to visit this historic show of early modernism.

"Lyonel Feininger: From Manhattan to the Bauhaus" will offer a comprehensive panorama of the oeuvre of this American painter who spent most of his life in Germany. There, he became one of the leading figures of German Expressionism and of the Bauhaus School, where he taught.

The exhibition will highlight the astonishingly modern approach of this multidisciplinary artist, who was equally interested in the fine arts and the applied arts. The presentation features over 150 works, including seventy-three paintings, watercolours, prints, political cartoons, carved toys and, for the first time in a Feininger retrospective, photographs taken by the artist and by his two sons, Andreas and T. Lux Feininger.

This exhibition is organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, in collaboration with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Major loans have come from a number of institutions, including the Bauhaus Archiv, Berlin, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts, from Feininger’s family in the United States and Canada, and from museums and private collectors in Germany, Austria and the United States.

Exceptionally for his era, Feininger was one of the first “American” artists of his generation to be perceived as an international artist with a hybrid identity. This has since become the norm for many contemporary artists.

Born in Manhattan of a German father and a German-American mother, Feininger was sent, at the age of sixteen, to Hamburg, Germany, to complete his education. Expecting to return to the United States a few years later, he studied in Berlin, Liège and Paris, got married and pursued a brilliant career in Germany, which eventually weakened his attachment to his native land.

Although he was born American, he was considered a German artist and his works could not be exhibited at the famous “Armory Show” in New York in 1913 because of the bias against German art characteristic of the time.

In the 1910s, he exhibited in leading avant-garde galleries in Germany, but his art was rarely seen in the United States before the mid-1920s. When his work was denounced by the Nazis and featured in the infamous exhibition Entartete Kunst [Degenerate Art] of 1937, he returned to the United States shortly before the outbreak of World War II.

Because of his origins, American museums began to exhibit his work. In the first few years after his return, his works were presented at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Brooklyn Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco, among others.
An oeuvre marked by multidisciplinarity Feininger began his career as a caricaturist, illustrator and cartoonist for prestigious publications like the Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung and Ulk.

As one of the most famous caricaturists in Germany at the turn of the twentieth century, he also created comic strips for the Chicago Sunday Tribune – The Kin-der-Kids and Wee Willie Winkie’s World.

His style, his subjects, his compositions and juxtapositions, not to mention his sense of humour, were to make him one of the fathers of the modern comic strip. His short career as an illustrator – he stopped at the age of thirty-five –   was to serve as an example years later for artists like Roy Lichtenstein (from the 1960s on) and Raymond Pettibon (from the 1980s on).

In about 1907, he began to focus on painting in oils. The lively, colourful paintings he executed in that decade evoke his early work as a caricaturist.

It was while exhibiting at the Salon des Indépendants in Paris in 1911 that he discovered Cubism. He then developed a personal style characterized by fragmented images. He later exhibited at the Galerie Der Sturm in Berlin and taught at the Bauhaus.

The retrospective will also feature a selection of watercolours and woodcuts that Feininger produced after 1918, and photos showing his fascination with light. An equally important and original facet of his production – which is glimpsed also in his paintings – was carved wooden toys, some of which appear here.

The exhibition will be a chronological and thematic presentation of Feininger’s art following the artist’s trajectory from Berlin, Paris, Weimar and Dessau to his return to Manhattan.

The first gallery will introduce Lyonel Feininger as a cartoonist, as well as provide biographical material about his family’s musical background and include photographs by his two sons, Andreas and T. Lux Feininger.

The second gallery will feature the artist’s paintings made in Berlin from 1910 to 1918, from his carnivalesque paintings to the crystalline-layered architectural paintings. Feininger’s role at the Bauhaus, from 1919 to 1932, will be explored alongside his famous seascapes and little-known photographs.

Music composed by Feininger, as well as the fugues by Bach that inspired him, will be heard in the last gallery, alongside his magnificent series of Gelmeroda paintings, and the final works he executed after he settled in Manhattan.