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

Architecture with Stars II

Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956)
Architecture with Stars II
signed 'Feininger' (upper left); signed, dated and inscribed 'Lyonel Feininger, 1945, "Architecture with Stars, II"' (on the stretcher)
oil on canvas
16 1/4 x 28 1/4 in. (41.5 x 71.6 cm.)
Painted in 1945
The artist's estate, until at least 1964.
Marlborough Gallery, New York, by 1969 (no. 335).
Anonymous sale, Villa Grisebach, Berlin, 27 May 1994, lot 49.
Acquired art the above sale by the present owner.
Exh. cat., Hommage à Lyonel Feininger, Rétrospective Aquarelles et Dessins 1894 à 1955, Paris, 1989.
H. Hess, Feininger, London, 1961, no. 461, p. 293 (illustrated).
U. Luckhardt, Lyonel Feininger: Die Zeichnungen und Aquarelle, Cologne, 1998, p. 223.

New York, Buchholz Gallery, Lyonel Feininger: Recent Paintings, Watercolors, January – February 1946, no. 13.
Munich, Bayerische Akademie der Schönen Künste, Lyonel Feininger, September – October 1954, no. 27; this exhibition later travelled to Hannover, Kestner-Gesellschaft, October – November 1954.
Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Lyonel Feininger, December 1954 – January 1955, no. 27.
New York, Willard Gallery, Lyonel Feininger, Oils and Watercolors 1940 to 1955, February – March 1956, no. 7.
New York, Willard Gallery, Lyonel Feininger, November – December 1958, no. 9.
New York, Willard Gallery, Lyonel Feininger, Architecture, Paris-New York, March 1961, no. 6 (illustrated).
Berlin, Amerika Haus, Lyonel Feininger. Werke aus dem Nachlass, September – October 1964, no. 17 (illustrated).
New York, Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, Lyonel Feininger, April - May 1969, no. 64, p. 13 (illustrated p. 81).
Munich, Galerie Ilse Schweinsteiger, Expressionisten 2, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen, Ölbilder, Winter 1982, no. 14 (illustrated).
New York, Serge Sabarsky Gallery, Expressionists: Paintings, Watercolors and Drawings by 12 German Expressionists, December 1984, no. 17, pp. 38 (illustrated p. 39).
Halle, Staatliche Galerie Moritzburg, Zurück in Amerika: Lyonel Feininger 1937-1956, May – August 2009, no. 19, pp. 187 & 222 (illustrated).
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Antoine Lebouteiller
Antoine Lebouteiller

Lot Essay

Achim Mœller, Managing Principal of The Lyonel Feininger Project LLC, New York – Berlin has confirmed the authenticity of this work, which is registered under no. 1337-04-22-14.

The work will be included in the Lyonel Feininger Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings edited by Achim Mœller.

Painted in 1945, Lyonel Feininger’s Architecture with Stars II takes as its subject the Manhattan skyline at night. American-born Feininger had moved to Germany in 1887 and remained there until 1937, when the Nazi regime forced him to leave and return to his native New York. Presenting a nocturnal cityscape under a softly luminous blue sky in which two shining stars and a sickle moon hang, Architecture with Stars II captures the atmospheric glow of the city at night.

On his arrival in New York, Feininger was at first overwhelmed by the city; he wrote, ‘I find myself in a state of continual wonderment… There is nothing that does not affect me in some way; every step I take…is a source of pure delight’ (Feininger, quoted in B. Haskell, Lyonel Feininger: At the Edge of the World, exh. cat., New York, 2011, p. 154). However, his joy in rediscovering New York quickly faded as he experienced a sense of dislocation and displacement, coupled with dire financial circumstances. It was not until 1940 that the artist began to readjust and from this point he started to paint again, looking to the geometric architecture of Manhattan and its soaring skyscrapers adorned with thousands of windows, as a source of inspiration. The arrangement of buildings in Architecture with Stars II demonstrates Feininger’s interest in the architectural formation of the city. Feininger has captured the effects of light on a section of the skyline, depicting the dark shadow on one area and the bright white illumination of the building behind.

In contrast to the artist’s earlier work from his time in Germany, when he depicted street scenes with rigid, architectonic linear forms, Architecture with Stars II demonstrates Feininger’s new, looser graphic style in which he used light-filled planes of roughly applied colour to create the structure of the composition. Feininger wrote in 1942, three years before painting the present work, ‘I am busy at work on a collection of architectural “visions”… New York as a subject for translation into symbol of Space and Atmosphere… New York is the most amazing city in its atmosphere, colour, and contrasts in the whole world… Some of [my work] is in a definitely new application of oil technique, using some graphic elements of line in fields of vigorous colour’ (Feininger, quoted in H. Hess, Lyonel Feininger, New York, 1959, p. 148).

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