Achim Moeller, Managing Principal of The Lyonel Feininger Project LLC, New York – Berlin has confirmed the authenticity of this work, which is registered under no. 1313-03-02-15. The work will be included in Volume III of the forthcoming Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings by Lyonel Feininger, edited by Achim Moeller.
The present work was painted in 1954, likely in the winter, when Feininger would admire views of New York and its skyline from his window. With its repeating lines and geometric forms, Edged Spaces recalls the best of Feininger's early works, when the artist was living in Germany painting abstracted street scenes (Hess, no. 150). Despite the similarities to his pre-war paintings, Feininger's later works with their relatively subdued palette have an inner luminescence from their heavily worked surface as if "the picture has almost been emptied of emotional content to the point where pure thought rules supreme" (H. Hess, op. cit., p. 166). Aware of the American influence on his work, Feininger writes in a letter to his son T. Lux, on 3 January 1954, "outside the Metropolitan Museum a few grand trees in the late sunlight cast rich shadows over the façade—just delightful... their essence is what enters into my happy mood, and doubtless helps somewhat to modify my customary severities of style" (quoted in ibid, p. 160).
At the time Edged Spaces was painted, Feininger had warmed to New York and was enjoying great success and international acclaim. He writes, "I identify myself now to quite an extent with New York... I actually can be at home" (ibid). Encouraged by dealer and friend Curt Valentin, Feininger painted avidly and exhibited widely. Only a few months after the present work was painted, it was exhibited not only at Curt Valentin Gallery, but also at the Art Institute of Chicago alongside the best works by Naum Gabo, Joseph Albers, Willem de Kooning, Alexander Calder and Feininger's close friend, Mark Tobey. Upon returning to New York after these celebrated exhibitions, the present work was purchased by the late owners, where it resided in their esteemed collection for nearly sixty years.
(fig. 1) Julia and Lyonel with T. Lux and Andreas in front of Sterne über der Stadt (Hess, no. 351) in their New York apartment, 1951. Photograph by Arnlod Newman.