LYONEL FEININGER (1871-1956)
LYONEL FEININGER (1871-1956)
LYONEL FEININGER (1871-1956)
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LYONEL FEININGER (1871-1956)

Kirche über Stadt

Details
LYONEL FEININGER (1871-1956)
Kirche über Stadt
signed and dated 'Feininger 27' (lower right)
oil on canvas
31 ¼ x 39 1/8 in. (79.5 x 99.5 cm.)
Painted at the Bauhaus in Dessau in 1927
Provenance
Andreas Feininger, New York, by descent from the artist in 1956.
Mr & Mrs Walter Aufhauser, Los Angeles, by whom acquired from the above in 1965.
John and Paul Herring & Co., Inc., New York.
Achim Moeller Ltd., London, as agent for the above.
Acquired from the above by the present owner on 7 December 1977.
Literature
H. Hess, Lyonel Feininger, London, 1961, no. 290, p. 275 (illustrated).
A. Hüneke, 'Halle - Episode oder Objekt der Sehnsucht? Entstehung und Schicksal der Halle-Serie', in Lyonel Feininger. Die Halle-Bilder, exh. cat., Staatlichen Galerie Moritzburg, Halle, 1991, p 18.
M. Faass, Lyonel Feininger und der Kubismus, Europäische Hochschulschriften, Series XXVIII, vol. 336. Frankfurt, 1999, p. 71.
W. Thöner, '"...Das Treppenhaus ist meine ganze Freude..." Das Haus Feininger in der Siedlung der Meisterhäuser, seine Bewohner und Gäste, in Meisterhäuser in Dessau, Frankfurt, 2001, pp. 47-55 (illustrated in photograph of Feininger’s studio, Dessau, p. 50).
G. Langfeld, Duitse kunst in Nederland. Verzamelen, tentoonstellen, kritieken, 1919-1964, exh. cat., Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague, 2004, p. 223.
A. Moeller, Lyonel Feininger: The Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, no. 304, http://www.feiningerproject.org/catalogue/ (accessed on February 19, 2021).
Exhibited
Dresden, Neue Kunst Fides, Lyonel Feininger: Neue Gemälde, Zeichnungen, February - March 1928, no. 5, n.p.
Dusseldorf, Kunstakademie, Deutsche Kunst Düsseldorf 1928, May - October 1928, no. 187, p. 44.
Breslau, Gesellschaft der Kunstfreunde Breslau, Schlesisches Museum der Bildenden Künste, Lyonel Feininger, Erich Heckel: Gemälde, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen. Ewald Mataré: Plastik, January - February 1929, no. 44, p. 2 (dated '1928').
Basel, Kunsthalle Basel, Bauhaus Dessau: J. Albers, L. Feininger, W. Kandinsky, P. Klee, O. Schlemmer, April - May 1929, no. 22, p. 6.
Berlin, Galerie Ferdinand Möller, Sonder-Ausstellung: Die Blaue Vier: Lyonel Feininger, A. Jawlensky, W. Kandinsky, Paul Klee, October 1929, no. 13, n.p.
Prague, Kunstverein für Böhmen, Sonderausstellung: Lyonel Feininger, December 1929 - January 1930, no. 26, p. 4.
Essen, Museum Folkwang, Lyonel Feininger, June - August 1931.
Hannover, Kestner-Gesellschaft, Lyonel Feininger, January - March 1932, no. 39, n.p.
Oakland, Mills College Art Gallery, Exhibition Lyonel Feininger, June - July 1936, no. 1; this exhibition later travelled to San Francisco, Museum of Art, August - September 1936; and Seattle, Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, October 1936.
Santa Barbara, Faulkner Memorial Art Gallery, Lyonel Feininger: Exhibition of Oil and Watercolor Paintings and Prints, January 1937, no. 21, n.p.
Minneapolis, University Gallery, University of Minnesota, Lyonel Feininger: A Retrospective Exhibition at the University of Minnesota, April 1938, no. 7, n.p.
Wellesley, The Art Museum of Wellesley College, Exhibition of Paintings by Lyonel Feininger, January - February 1940, no. 3, n.p.
Pasadena, Art Museum, Lyonel Feininger 1871-1956: A Memorial Exhibition, April - May 1966, no. 32 (illustrated n.p.); this exhibition later travelled to Milwaukee Art Center, July - August 1966; and Baltimore Museum of Art, September - October 1966.
Kiel, Kunsthalle, Lyonel Feininger. Gemälde, Aquarelle und Zeichnungen, Druckgraphik, June - August 1982, no. 12, p. 54 (illustrated p. 55).
Weimar, Kunsthalle am Theaterplatz, Bauhaus-Künstler: Malerei und Grafik aus den Beständen der Kunstsammlungen zu Weimar und der Deutschen Bank, July - August 1993, no. 21, p. 52 (illustrated); this exhibition later travelled to Wiesbaden, Museum, September - November 1993; and Dessau, Bauhaus, December 1993 - January 1994.
Ludwigshafen, Wilhelm-Hack-Museum, Die neue Wirklichkeit: Abstraktion als Weltentwurf, October 1994 - January 1995, p. 225 (illustrated).
Quedlinburg, Lyonel-Feininger-Galerie, Kristall. Metapher der Kunst: Geist und Natur von der Romantik zur Moderne, August - November 1997, no. 113, p. 96 (illustrated p. 31).
Bern, Kunstmuseum, Die Blaue Vier: Feininger, Jawlensky, Kandinsky, Klee in der Neuen Welt, December 1997 - March 1998, no. 19, p. 338 (illustrated p. 190); this exhibititon later travelled to Dusseldorf, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, March - June 1998.
Berlin, Neue Nationalgalerie, Lyonel Feininger: Von Gelmeroda nach Manhattan, July - October 1998, no. 77, pp. 39, 298, 316-317, 331, 365 (illustrated p. 149); this exhibition later travelled to Munich, Haus der Kunst, November 1998 - January 1999.
Koblenz, Ludwig Museum im Deutschherrenhaus, Deutschland Frankreich. Dialoge der Kunst im XX. Jahrhundert, September - November 1999, no. 72, p. 239 (illustrated p. 159).
Karlsruhe, Städtische Galerie, Feininger: Vater und Söhne, March - June 2001, no. 3, p. 159 (illustrated p. 48).
Wiesbaden, Museum, Jawlensky. Meine liebe Galka!, October 2004 - March 2005, p. 258 (illustrated p. 261).
Wuppertal, Von-der-Heydt-Museum, Lyonel Feininger: Frühe Werke und Freunde, September - November 2006, p. 183 (illustrated).
Yokosuka, Museum of Art, Lyonel Feininger. Retrospective in Japan, August - October 2008, no. 91, p. 108 (illustrated p. 109); this exhibition later travelled to Nagoya, Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, October - December 2008; and Sendai, Miyagi Museum of Art, January - March 2009.
Jena, Städtischen Museen, In nachbarlicher Nähe. Bauhaus in Jena, March - June 2009, no. I/6, p. 278 (illustrated p. 107).
Wiesbaden, Museum, Das Geistige in der Kunst. Vom Blauen Reiter zum Abstrakten Expressionismus, October 2010 - February 2011, p. 240 (illustrated p. 243).
Dortmund, Museum Ostwall, Stadt in Sicht: Werke aus der Sammlung Deutsche Bank. von Feininger bis Gursky, April - August 2013, p. 13 (illustrated).
Quedlinburg, Lyonel-Feininger Galerie, Auf dem Weg zum Bauhaus-Künstler. Lyonel Feininger, September 2013 - January 2014, pp. 33, 34 & 233 (illustrated); this exhibition later travelled to Emden, Kunsthalle, January - April 2014.
Special Notice

Cancellation under the EU Consumer Rights Directive may apply to this lot. Please see here for further information.
This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.
Post Lot Text
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. 1431-06-07-17.

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Lot Essay


With its sharp, crystalline planes of gradated colour all intersecting and coalescing in order to build a spectacular and near-abstract pictorial structure of colour and light from the simple forms of a village church, Kirche über Stadt (Church over the Town) is an outstanding example of Lyonel Feininger’s magnificent ability to marry architectural form and deep, inner feeling.

Painted in 1927, not long after Feininger had moved to Dessau where he continued to live and occasionally teach among the faculty of the Bauhaus, the painting derives from an important moment in Feininger’s career. As Hans Hess has written of this auspicious time, ‘the year 1927 marked an important change in Feininger’s work … From his Cubist form he had reached a static picture form with space and light firmly organized. Creating a new pictorial reality… [but one that] had exhausted its creative possibilities exactly as the Cubist still-life form had exhausted the inventive power of Picasso. Feininger’s own inventions became for him a prison from which he had to break out’ (Lyonel Feininger, London, 1959, p. 112)

In his letters to his wife Julia at this time, still living back in Weimar, Feininger began to speak of his need for a liberation from the ‘purely static,’ that would give him a new conception of ‘pictorial form’ [Bildform] and also of how he had begun to see colour as the means by which he could achieve this. ‘Colours that once were only colourful now become sonorous again and subordinate themselves to the whole,’ Feininger wrote excitedly about his new work. ‘I have a picture on the easel now which really promises to arise from colour…[and] yesterday I understood the secret… planes and forms conceived as colour’ (Letters to Julia in September 1927, quoted in ibid., p. 112).

In Kirche über Stadt this liberation of the forms of the church and the rooftops of the town below through a sensual and intuitive use of free-form, abstract colour now provides the formerly static Cubist-type structure of the painting with a new, formless sense of fluidity, freedom and potential. Here, crystalline planes of colour have started to take on a life of their own, combining together to create a semi-abstract pictorial fugue of abstract form and colour: one that speaks not just of a dynamic pictorial harmony but also of a spiritual dimension of feeling underpinning Feininger’s elegant constructions.

In the midst of a burgeoning political storm growing all around him in Dessau where the local Fascists were continually agitating against the presence of the Bauhaus, Feininger was increasingly turning inwards, quietly building on his past success to create an ever-richer and deeper form of pictorial expression. As he wrote to Julia around the time he was working on Kirche über Stadt: ‘It is unbelievable to what extent the party opposed to the Bauhaus has gone in its blind hatred, no doubt against the interests of the town. I trust though, that emotions will calm down... One may ask how much is really left nowadays to depend upon. It seems as if all the people in the world were equally crazy… Apart from the aforementioned, I’m very interested in my pictures. Resolutely I am obliterating and building up anew, and I should say that without the succession of alternating efforts, my painting would remain timid and unsatisfactory. So far the result has been on the positive side. For too long I haven’t wrestled with my work. I hate half measures. Too readily at times one loves the process of development. Growth has to suffer many transformations before life is breathed or beaten into it…’ (Letter to Julia, November 27, 1927, in J. L. Ness, ed. Lyonel Feininger, New York, 1974, pp. 159-60).

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