Monday, April 6, 2015

Lyonel Feininger's Crystalline Images

Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956) got his start as a cartoonist, even though he was given formal training in art. So it can be helpful to be a well-fed young artist rather than a starving one while working on one's skills. As this biographical sketch mentions, he finally got around to the Fine Arts trade when he was in his mid-30s.

Feininger is best known for images that were probably originally inspired by Cubism, but usually lacked the Cubist rationale that subjects were supposedly simultaneously depicted from various points of view in one image. Instead, Feininger simplified subjects using straight edges and planes, often extending edge lines across the picture plane accompanied by transitional value shading. The result was a clean, somewhat crystalline appearance that has appealed to me for as long as I can remember. Other artists picked up on this, including C.R.W. Nevinson and Ray Hill, the latter an instructor at the University of Washington when I was an art student.

Below are examples from what I consider to be Feininger's Golden Years.


Gross-Kromsdorf - 1915

Hohe Häuser IV - 1919
This seems to be about as Cubist as Feininger could manage.

Gelmeroda VIII - 1921
Even people are reduced to lines and angles.

The High Shore - 1923
A crystalized landscape.

Gaberndorf II - 1924
Another somewhat Cubist image.

Church of the Minorites II - 1926
Gothic arches are reduced to angles here.

Bird Cloud - 1926
The bird's wings seem Futurist-inspired (think: Giacomo Balla's Dinamismo di un Cane al Guinzaglio -- "Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash" - 1912).

Sail Boats - 1929

Gelmeroda XIII - 1936

No comments: