Van Gogh •
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Lyonel Feininger was born in New York, the son of two German-born musicians. He showed talent as a violinist while very
young and was sent to Germany to study music at the age of sixteen. But in Germany, Feininger decided to study art and,
after some preliminary studies, went to Paris where, like so many artists of the period, he was influenced by Cubism in
his search for his own method of expression. His distinctly personal style is both Cubist and architectural in derivation.
Feininger painted buildings, churches, town landscapes, or seascapes. These are constructed of transparent or translucent
overlapping geometrical planes that catch light like prisms or reflect it from solid surfaces. These planes rise up to form
an architecture that continues into a similarly constructed atmosphere, while light pours through them as if through a
series of gauzy veils. His softly muted color is applied lightly in both oils and watercolors and the resulting works have
the misty iridescent quality of motes of dust in sunbeams.
Franz Marc invited him to join Blaue Reiter, and so Feininger exhibited with
them at the First German Autumn Salon in 1913. He was also one of the four original artists who taught at the Bauhaus, where
he remained until the Nazis closed it in 1933.
With Klee, Kandinsky,
and Jawlensky, Feininger formed a loosely linked group called Die
Blallen Vier (The Four Blues) which exhibited in Germany and the United States beginning in 1924. Feininger, who also wrote
for newspapers, remained in Germany until 1937 when he left for political reasons. Returning to New York he set up a school
of his own in which he taught and painted until his death in 1956.