Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956)
Property From the Collection of Joan and Preston Robert Tisch
Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956)

Trompetenbläser I

Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956)
Trompetenbläser I
signed and dated 'Feininger 12' (lower left); titled, numbered and inscribed 'TROMPETENBLÄSER I KISTE "L. F. VII"' (on the stretcher)
oil on canvas
37 1/8 x 31 ½ in. (94.4 x 79.9 cm.)
Painted in 1912
Hermann Klumpp, Quedlingburg (deposited by the artist for safekeeping, 1935-1972).
Julia Feininger, New York (by descent from the artist and recovered from the above).
Acquavella Galleries, Inc., New York (acquired from the estate of the above, 1985).
Richard L. Feigen and Co., New York (acquired from the above).
Mark Goodson, New York (acquired from the above, 10 October 1985).
Pace Wildenstein, New York (acquired from the estate of the above).
Acquired from the above by the late owners, 15 November 1995.
Letter from Alfred Kubin to Feininger, 17 January 1913 (titled Carnevalsbild).
Letter from Feininger to Julia Feininger, 1 September 1917.
H. Hess, Lyonel Feininger, Stuttgart, 1959, pp. 54 and 255, no. 78 (illustrated).
D. Eimert, Der Einfluss des Futurismus auf die deutsche Malerei, Cologne, 1974, p. 383.
J. Ness, ed., Lyonel Feininger, New York, 1974, pp. 88 and 94 (titled Trumpeters).
T.L. Feininger and V. Graaf, "Mein Vater hat einen Fehler gemacht" in Du: Die Zeitschrift für Kunst und Kultur, vol. 5, 1986, p. 62 (titled Trumpeters).
“Lyonel Feininger: Frühe Werke” in Du: Die Zeitschrift für Kunst und Kultur, vol. 5, 1986, p. 35 (illustrated in color, p. 36; titled Trumpeters).
U. Luckhardt, Lyonel Feininger, Munich, 1989, p. 70, no. 11 (illustrated in color, p. 71).
M. Kahn-Rossi, ed., Lyonel Feininger: La variante tematica e tecnica nello sviluppo del processo creativo, Lugano, 1991, p. 114.
M. Jochimsen and P. Dering, Avanti! Avanti! Futurismus im deutschen Expressionismus, exh. cat., August-Macke-Haus, Bonn, 1998, p. 27 (illustrated, p. 26).
U. Luckhardt and M. Faass, eds., Lyonel Feininger: Die Zeichnungen und Aquarelle, exh. cat., Hamburger Kunsthalle, 1998, p. 214.
M. Faass, Lyonel Feininger und der Kubismus, vol. 336, no. XXVIII, Frankfurt am Main, 1999, pp. 78 and 85, no. 371 (illustrated, p. 121; titled Trompetenbläser).
P. Werner, Der Fall Feininger, Leipzig, 2006, pp. 26, 83, 143, 209, 213, 215, 216 and 224, no. 31 (illustrated in color, p. 143).
U. Luckhardt, ed., Lyonel Feininger und Alfred Kubin: Eine Künstlerfreundschaft, exh. cat., Internationale Tage Ingelheim, Altes Rathaus, 2015, p. 199 (illustrated, fig. 2).
W. Büche, Lyonel Feininger: Paris 1912, exh. cat., Kunstmuseum Moritzburg Halle (Saale), 2016, p. 93.
Berlin, Galerie Der Sturm, Fünfundfündfzigste Ausstellung: Lyonel Feininger, Gemälde und Aquarelle, Zeichnungen, September 1917, no. 44 (titled Trompetenbläser).
Munich, Neue Kunst Hans Goltz, 48 Ausstellung: Lyonel Feininger, October 1918, no. 1 (titled Trompetenbläser).
Hagen, Folkwang-Museum, Lyonel Feininger, June 1919 (titled Trompetenbläser).
Dresden, Galerie Emil Richter, Lyonel Feininger: Sonder-Ausstellung seiner Gemälde, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen und Holzschnitte, September 1919, p. 2, no. 9 (titled Trompetenbläser).
Hannover, Kestner-Gesellschaft, Paul Klee, Lyonel Feininger: Gemälde, Graphik. XXIX, Sonder-Ausstellung, November 1919–January 1920, no. 131 (titled Trompetenbläser).
New York, Acquavella Galleries, Inc. and The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., Lyonel Feininger, October 1985-February 1986, no. 31 (illustrated in color).
New York, Pace Wildenstein, Modern Masters from the Collection of Mark Goodson, October-November 1995, pp. 8-9 (illustrated, p. 66).
Wuppertal, Von der Heydt-Museum, Lyonel Feininger: Frühe Werke und Freunde, September-November 2006, pp. 13 and 121 (illustrated in color, p. 120).
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Lyonel Feininger: At the Edge of the World, June-October 2011, p. 61 (illustrated in color, fig. 66).

Lot Essay

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. 1489-04-02-18. The work will be included in the forthcoming Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings by Lyonel Feininger, compiled by Achim Moeller, under no. 88.

Additional information for this entry was provided by The Lyonel Feininger Project, New York–Berlin.

“I believe firmly that every picture that deserves the name must be an absolute synthesis of rhythm, form, perspective and color; and even that is not good enough if it is not expressive.” (Lyonel Feininger autobiographical essay reproduced in Les Tendences Nouvelles, no. 56, 1912, quoted in H. Hess, Lyonel Feininger, London, 1961, p. 55).
Executed in a powerful rush of color and movement, Trompetenbläser I captures the dynamism and vibrancy of Lyonel Feininger’s style at an important moment of transition in his artistic career, as he took a decisive step towards the bold angularity of his mature painterly aesthetic. Created in 1912, the work clearly reflects the dual influences of Cubism and Italian Futurism on Feininger during this formative stage of his career, as he sought to fuse the abstract elements of composition, perspective and color into a new and highly expressive form of art.
Feininger had first encountered these revolutionary aesthetics during a visit to Paris in the spring of 1911, where Cubism had captured the imagination of the avant-garde. “I had gone to Paris for two weeks,” he later recalled of this trip, “and found the art world agog with Cubism, a thing I had never heard even mentioned before, but which I had already, entirely intuitively, striven after for years” (Feininger, in a letter to Alfred Vance Churchill, 1913, cited in Hess, op. cit, p. 52). The angular forms and disjointed perspective of Cubism proved a revelation for Feininger and immediately inspired a stylistic shift in his work towards ever more disruptive conjunctions of flat planes of color. This partial adoption of the Cubist aesthetic was not an emulation of the French Cubists’ paintings however, but an incorporation of their ideas into the progressive logic of his own work. In a letter to his old friend Alfred Vance Churchill he explained: “My ‘cubism,’ to so miscall it, for it is the reverse of the French Cubists’ aims, is based upon the principle of monumentality, concentration to the absolutest extreme possible, of my visions…My pictures are ever nearing closer the Synthesis of the fugue” (quoted in, ibid., 56).
This emphasis on monumentality and on a concentrated purity of form is clearly evident in Trompetenbläser I through the deliberate concentration of the exaggerated elongated forms of the figures and the prism-like division of light and color. Suggesting a striking surface of sharp, angular, overlapping forms, the composition derives from an early gouache painted in 1910, in which a procession of harlequins and masked revelers move through an anonymous townscape. Belonging to Feininger’s early series known as the ‘grotesques,’ it conjures a caricature-like atmosphere of the world as a bizarre and glorious masquerade. The atmosphere of the later, more colorful and dynamic oil version is however, closer to that of another working of the same subject, Carnival in Arcueil of 1911. In this similarly vibrant work, Feininger’s favored motif of the carnival procession is dominated by a tall, elegant and solitary figure of a trumpeter, silhouetted against a similarly spectacular architectural urban backdrop. Dominating both of these paintings are the dramatic and seemingly elongated arches of the Roman viaducts that had so impressed Feininger on his first visits to Arcueil and Meudon and which he had specifically revisited during his trip to Paris in the spring of 1911.
In contrast to Carnival in Arcueil, the vast towering viaduct in Trompetenbläser I becomes merely an architectural echo of the emotion, noise and excitement conjured by this semi-abstract painting. Depicting the joyous and frenetic emotion of a carnival procession marching through the streets of the “City at the End of the World”—the imaginary city that forms the backdrop to so many of Feininger’s early paintings—the subject matter of the composition both supports and reflects the energetic and discordant style of the painting’s execution. The musical theme of the painting and its atmosphere of noisy frivolity has been here employed as the vehicle through which the inherent dynamism of Feininger’s sharp angular abstract forms and colors are orchestrated into a cleverly counterbalanced compositional whole.
This aspect of the painting, its pictorial emphasis on the noise and movement of the figures is essentially a Futurist element that almost certainly reflects the influence of the paintings of Futurist artists like Gino Severini and Umberto Boccioni on Feininger at this time. In the spring of 1912 Herwarth Walden held the first exhibition of Futurist art in Germany at the Galerie der Sturm in Berlin. Accompanied by a celebrated visit to Berlin from the movement’s leader and founder, the poet and master propagandist Fillipo Marinetti, the exhibition was accompanied by the first publication in German of the Futurist Manifesto and caused a furor throughout the city. As Walden’s wife Nelly recalled, “Sometimes there were a thousand visitors per day. The press could complain as much as they wanted, which they did, but everyone wanted to see the exhibition. It was fashionable to have been there” (quoted in D. Eimert, Der Einfluss des Futurismus auf die deutsche Malerei, Cologne, 1974, p. 105).
It is not known whether Feininger visited this famous exhibition, but it seems almost inevitable that he did. Apart from the huge level of excitement surrounding the show, his paintings of this period immediately seem to reflect the influence of the Italian artists at the exhibition. Indeed, with its strong Cubo-Futurist forms and its converging yellow lines of trumpets suggesting the noisy blasts and frenetic movement of the carnival parade as it invades the city, Trompetenbläser I can in many ways be seen as a direct response by Feininger to the Futurists’ exhibition and their own invasion of the Berlin art-scene. Echoing the light, form and color of Boccioni’s famous painting La strada entra nella casa of 1911, Trompetenbläser I is a similar fugue-like construction of vibrant form and color that fuses into a colorful unity to suggest an invasion of dynamic energy, noise, and excitement. The only difference being that instead of invading the bourgeois peace and calm of Boccioni’s mother’s apartment, Feininger’s trumpeters and carnival performers are blasting their way through the calm streets of his genteel and imaginary “City at the End of the World.”
The history of this painting’s provenance also forms an important part of Feininger’s life-story. Trompetenbläser I is listed as no. 31 from a group of around 50 important paintings by Feininger that were left in hiding in Germany when he fled the Third Reich in 1937. His work was considered degenerate under the Nazi regime and many of his paintings had been confiscated by the authorities long before the artist escaped for New York. Indeed, as early as the spring of 1933, Feininger had moved some of his possessions into storage following a house-search by the authorities, and he began to hide the finest works in his collection in order to protect as many as possible. As he departed Germany, Feininger entrusted their safe-keeping to his young friend Hermann Klumpp, a former pupil at the Bauhaus and a regular guest at the Feiningers’ home. In January 1938, Feininger requested that Klumpp ship his possessions to the U.S. When the supposed remnants of the collection arrived, Feininger was heard to say, "He sent me nothing of what I asked for." Klumpp had sent household goods, but not the fifty paintings Feininger had loved enough to safeguard in storage elsewhere.
In order to avoid the destruction of these works, Klumpp had convincingly claimed ownership of the art and kept them safe in Nazi Germany. No further requests, formal or informal, were made by the Feiningers for the paintings because Klumpp seemed, quite genuinely, to fear for his life and for that of his wife and two children. Such a shipment would have constituted an admission of guilt regarding Klumpp’s well-motivated fraud and perjury. It was under these circumstances that Hans Hess—the co-ordinator of the catalogue raisonné for Feininger’s work—was briefed when he visited Feininger’s wife Julia in the United States. In order to ensure Klumpp’s safety they agreed to list the works as "Inaccessible," in contrast to the other works that had been lost or redistributed during the war (the war ultimately resulted in the change or loss of possession of 348 of the artist’s pictures). This maneuver ensured Klumpp’s safety as well as that of the paintings, as they were neither certified as the possessions of an alien, nor falsely listed under his name. However, at the end of the war, Klumpp now lived in East Germany and his correspondence became increasingly less satisfactory to the Feiningers, and especially so after the artist’s death in 1956. It appears that he had exerted himself so much in the protection of Feininger’s paintings that they had, in his mind, become his.
No further action was taken until after the death of Julia, when the property in theory should have constituted a part of the estate of her heirs. The executors, Ralph F. Colin (the family attorney) and his son, who had known of the existence of these works, set about tactfully arranging for their restitution. In 1976, Colin took Klumpp to court and secured title of the works for the Feininger Estate. However, the German Democratic Republic (GDR) then asserted their authority by seeking possession over the paintings, being the property of an alien. Diplomatic efforts were made for years by Colin, culminating in a suit against the East German government, aided by a mirror image case happening concurrently, in which the East Germans were trying to reclaim two Dürer paintings then in private hands in the United States. This strategy worked, and the East Germans returned the works to the States, where, in 1985, all 49 paintings were exhibited for the first time in over fifty years at the Exhibition Lyonel Feininger at the Acquavella Galleries, New York and at the Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

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