Published: December 17, 2002
POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. – A retrospective exhibition of the photography of Andreas Feininger (1906-1999), Life magazine photographer for more than 20 years, opens at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College on Friday, January 17, and runs through Sunday, March 16.
Trained in design at the Bauhaus in Weimar, German, Feininger began accepting photography commissions to supplement his income as an architect in the 1930s. As Europe’s future darkened, Feininger’s star rose: his prints were included in international exhibitions and his first two books were widely acclaimed.
He emigrated with his wife and son to New York City in 1939, began working for Life, and through his own books of photographs, Feininger cataloged the dreams and dangers of postwar industrial development, meditated on the wisdom of nature’s design and expressed the concerns of the nascent ecology movement.
Feininger approached photography as a philosophical engineer; for him, the camera served as an infinitely malleable tool of inquiry. He excelled in dramatic telephoto, closeup and time-lapse photographs that all but narrated themselves. Despite the demand for his prints in exhibitions, his venue of choice remained publication. Among this thematic monographs — more than 20 titles — the best known are books that look at natural evolution as a “designer” of organisms, such as The Anatomy of Nature (1956), Trees (1968), Shells (1972) and Mountains of the Mind (1977).
The 60 prints in the exhibition are selected from a gift of 72 prints to the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center from the artist’s widow, Wysse Feininger. The illustrated catalog that accompanies the exhibition features a checklist and chronology, in addition to essays by Vassar curator Joel Smith and by Virginia Heckert, curator of photography at the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Fla.
Vassar College is at 124 Raymond Avenue. For information, 845-437-5632 or fllac.vassar.edu.
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