Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956)
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Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956)

Possendorf III

Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956)
Possendorf III
signed 'Feininger' (upper right); signed, dated and inscribed 'Lyonel Feininger 1942 "Possendorf III"' (on the stretcher)
oil on canvas
19¾ x 23 7/8 in. (50.3 x 60.6 cm.)
Painted in 1942
The artist's estate.
Marlborough Fine Art, London (no. 39854.1).
Achim Moeller Fine Art, New York.
Leonard Hutton Galleries, New York (no. 2592).
H. Hess, Lyonel Feininger, London, 1961, no. 431 (illustrated p. 289).
Tokyo, Marlborough Fine Art, Lyonel Feininger Retrospective: Oil Paintings and Works on Paper, March - June 1990, no. 8 (illustrated p. 22).
Berlin, Neue Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen, Lyonel Feininger - Von Gelmeroda nach Manhattan, July - October 1998, no. 114 (illustrated p. 195); this exhibition later travelled to Munich, Haus der Kunst.
Special notice
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Sale room notice
Please note the following additional exhibition references:
London, Marlborough Gerson Galleries, 1969.
Rome, Marlborough Galleria d'arte, Maestri del XIX e XX Secolo, Rome, 1972 - 1973 (illustrated in the catalogue no. 11).
Munich, Haus der Kunst, November 1998 - January 1999.
Apolda, Kunsthaus Apolda Avantgarde, Feininger im Weimarer Land, June - September 1999, no. 106 (illustrated on the front cover of the catalogue and on p. 112).

Lot Essay

This work is sold with a photo-certificate from Achim Moeller.

In the 1940s, Feininger started applying to his oils the compositional principles he had so far experimented with only in his drawings, translating into oil the clarity he had found in his work on paper in a process of simplification and reduction of both architecture and objects to linear schemes. The turning point for the development of his late production had come in 1938, with Feininger's extensive work for the mural for the Marine Transportation Building at the New York World's Fair, which the artist saw as the summation of all his work up to that point. As Ulrich Luckhardt pointed out: 'The more he pushed the coloured planes into the background and allowed the lines of the drawings to carry the motif, the more he was able to give expression to the dematerialization he wanted. The mural in the World's Fair of 1939 was the formal point of departure for these first pictures in the late painterly graphic style' (Lyonel Feininger, Munich & London, 1989, p. 46).

Possendorf, a small town in Thuringia in South-East Germany, appears in oil in Feininger's oeuvre three times. The composition of the present work, which is similar to that of Possendorf II, 1930, is based on sketches Feininger executed from life in August 1919, although the first sketches of the town are dated as early as 1913. Comparing the composition of the present work with that of its 1930 predecessor, one can clearly see the breakdown of Feininger's strict linearity in favour of a freer, more expressive composition. Under this ongoing process of simplification and clarification, Feininger's colours, which had been conceived as supports for the planar spaces, now took on independent function and meaning. The tonal subtleties gained in importance, becoming the atmospheric fabric with which his late paintings are woven. Possendorf III is defined by colour; the unusually vibrant and radiant orange ebbs and flows throughout the composition as in a watercolour and, barely contained by the simple structure of lines and scantly supported by few other areas of colour, dominates and describes the composition.

Luckhardt saw the artist's late oeuvre as a visual translation of his memories: '...[His paintings of the 1940s] are dominated by the worlds that Feininger had found and transformed, over and over again, in the thousands of sketches he had drawn after nature, making them the central theme of his work. It is a world of light and space, in which the memories of the slender sailboats on the Baltic, the cloud formations over the dunes, and the architecture of the old towns and villages, with their churches and gabled houses, are always present' (ibid., p. 47).

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