Published: May 31, 2011
Lyonel Feininger has long been recognized as a major figure of the Bauhaus, renowned for his romantic, crystalline depictions of architecture and the Baltic Sea. Yet the range and diversity of his achievement are less well known.
“Lyonel Feininger: At the Edge of the World,” the artist’s first retrospective in the United States in 45 years, is the first to incorporate the full breadth of his art by integrating his well-known oils with his political caricatures and pioneering Chicago Sunday Tribune comic strips, his figurative German Expressionist compositions, his architectural photographs of Bauhaus and New York subjects, his miniature hand carved, painted wooden figures and buildings, known as “City at the Edge of the World,” and his ethereal late paintings of New York City.
Curated by Barbara Haskell with the assistance of Sasha Nicholas, the exhibition debuts at the Whitney Museum of American Art June 30⁏ctober 16, and subsequently travels to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, January 16⁍ay 13.
Born and raised in New York City, Feininger (1871‱956) moved at the age of 16 to Germany to study music. Instead, he became a caricaturist and eventually a leading member of the German Expressionist groups Die Brücke and Die Blaue Reiter and, later, the Bauhaus. In the late 1930s, when the Nazi campaign against modern art necessitated his return to New York after an absence of 50 years, his marriage of abstraction and recognizable imagery made him a beloved artist in the United States.
Feininger is considered one of the pioneers of modern comic art. His short-lived Chicago Tribune comic strips, The Kin-der-Kids and Wee Willie Winkie’s World “achieved a breathtaking formal grace unsurpassed in the history of the medium,” as Art Spiegelman noted.
A panel discussion, “Comics Stars and Strips,” will be conducted Wednesday, July 20, at 7 pm, in the Whitney’s lower gallery. Inspired by the exhibition, the panel of master comic artists Spiegelman, Chris Ware and Gary Panter will discuss the intersection of comics and fine art.
A monograph accompanying the exhibition, with its overview essay by Haskell, covers the full breadth of Feininger’s career.
The Whitney Museum of American Art is at 945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street. For information, 212-570-3600 or www.whitney.org .
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