With his work at the Bauhaus after 1919 the German-American painter, graphic artist and caricaturist Lyonel Feininger was one of the most important artists of Classical Modernism. Characteristic of his works is his style, influenced by Cubism and Futurism, which the artist himself calls "Prismaism". Paintings and works on paper by Lyonel Feininger are regularly exhibited and collected by major museums and galleries worldwide. His first major solo exhibition in 1917 in Berlin, was followed by over 200 more, including 1973 at the Kunsthaus Zürich, 2011 at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and 2017 at the Fundatión Juan March in Madrid.
Lyonel Feininger was born on 17 July 1871 in New York. At the age of 16, the son of two German musicians was sent by his parents to Germany to study music. Against their will, Feininger decided to give up music in order to devote himself to his true passion: drawing and illustrating. After attending the Kunstgewerbeschule Hamburg, he initially concentrated on drawing comics, which were published in American and German magazines. With his regular income Feininger was able to travel to London and Paris, where he met Robert Delaunay. Influenced by his work, Feininger began to use more abstract lines in his works and to decompose reality into fragmented areas of colour. In 1912 Feininger met the artist group "Der Blaue Reiter" and one year later followed Franz Marc's invitation to an exhibition at the "Ersten Deutschen Herbstsalon" in the Berlin-based gallery "Der Sturm". In 1917 the gallery dedicated his first large solo exhibition to him and presented paintings as well as works on paper. Two years later, Feininger was the first master to be appointed to the Bauhaus, newly founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar. In March 1924, together with Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky and Alexej von Jawlensky, Feininger founded the exhibition group "Die Blaue Vier". Due to his American origins, Feininger was considered an American artist in Germany and gained great recognition in the German art world. In 1937 Feininger, whose works had recently been declared by the Nazis as "Degenerate Art", moved with his family to the USA, where he first taught at Mills College in Oakland, California. A year later Feininger moved to New York, where the Museum of Modern Art dedicated a major retrospective to him in 1944 and where he lived until his death in 1956. Lyonel Feininger works with ease in many media: oil painting, ink drawing, watercolor, and woodcut. He was deeply committed to Romanticism and concentrated in his works on a limited number of themes, mostly with clear architectural motifs such as views of cities with harbours, churches, and factories, or architectural landscapes depicted in prisms of luminous, transparent paint. His works form a multi-layered symbiosis of romanticism, reality and vision and are characterized by cubist and futuristic forms of expression.