Winner, German Photo Book Award in Gold 2012
One of the most versatile talents of the modern art movement in Germany, the American-born Lyonel Feininger (1871–1956) is celebrated as a master of caricature, ﬁgurative painting, and his own distinctive brand of cubism, but he also created a fascinating body of photographic work that is virtually unknown. This catalogue accompanies a traveling exhibition—with venues in Berlin, Munich, Los Angeles, and Cambridge, MA—that is the ﬁrst to be devoted to Feininger’s photographs. Reproducing 76 vintage prints as full-color plates, the book focuses on the rich and productive period between 1928 and the late 1930s, when Feininger was experimenting with an array of avant-garde photographic techniques and printing his own work, ranging from early atmospheric night views made at the Bauhaus (where he took up the camera in 1928) to bird’s-eye views of New York City (where he settled permanently in 1937). Never shared with the public during his lifetime, the photographs are drawn primarily from Feininger’s own collection (now at Harvard University’s Houghton Library).
The catalogue includes an essay by exhibition curator Laura Muir, which explores the origins of Feininger’s photographic work at the Bauhaus, its development over the next decade, and its complex and ambivalent relationship to his work in other media. Based on Feininger’s correspondence, interviews with his son T. Lux, who witnessed his father’s work ﬁrsthand, and the artist’s collection of negatives in the Busch-Reisinger Museum’s Lyonel Feininger Archive, the catalogue presents a wealth of new information that dramatically expands our view of Feininger as an artist and the history of modernist photography.
Laura Muir is assistant curator of the Busch-Reisinger Museum.
About the German Photo Book Award: The Feininger photographs catalogue has been awarded gold by the German Photo Book prize 2012. The jury referred to Lyonel Feininger: Photographs, 1928–1939 as a “small, but sparkling art historical treasure. It is the ﬁrst publication of the photographs of Lyonel Feininger and covers this unknown terrain in exemplary fashion. The texts are intelligible, the layout clear, the printing excellent, and the noticeably small format not pulled from thin air, but well-founded. Lyonel Feininger made his own prints, and in small formats. In several cases the reproductions in this book have the same measurements as the vintage prints.”
Research Tool: A searchable database of the more than 18,000 photographic objects housed in the Busch-Reisinger Museum’s Lyonel Feininger Archive is available at harvardartmuseums.org/feiningerphotographs.