Lyonel Charles Adrian Feininger (born July 17, 1871 in New York ; † January 13, 1956 there ) was a German-American painter , graphic artist and caricaturist . From 1909 he was a member of the Berlin Secession . With his work at the Bauhaus since 1919, he is one of the most important artists of classical modernism .
Feininger only started painting at the age of 36. Before that he worked as a commercial cartoonist for various German, French and American newspapers and magazines. He subjected his work to a rigorous self-critical examination and, based on his caricatures, quickly developed a very distinctive painting style. In his pictures the objects are abstracted and artistically exaggerated. The strength achieved and the expression of Feininger's style influenced numerous contemporary artists and established its importance and success. Feininger often took up motifs and compositions of his own caricatures and sketches in his work .
His drawings of the small town idyll made in Ribnitz and Damgarten in 1905, for example, have become famous , as are his pictures of churches and village centers in the Weimar region in Thuringia , where he repeatedly went to work and study between 1906 and 1937. The pictures are mostly based on the respective localities ( Gelmeroda , Niedergrunstedt , Possendorf , Mellingen , Vollersroda , Tiefurt , Taubach , Gaberndorf , Oberweimar , Zottelstedtu. a.) named and numbered.
Leonell (Lyonel) Feininger was born as the son of two distinguished German musicians, the concert violinist Karl (later Charles) Feininger and the pianist and singer Elisabeth Feininger. In 1887, at the age of 16, Feininger came to Germany for the first time with his parents, who were on a concert tour. With their permission, he was allowed to stay there and attend the Hamburg School of Applied Arts . On October 1st of the following year, he passed the entrance exam for the Royal Academy in Berlin . He started drawing for publishers and magazines at an early age. In 1892 he took a degree at the Académie Colarossi in Paris which was founded by the Italian sculptor Filippo Colarossi. After seven months in Paris, he returned to Berlin in 1893, where he worked as a freelance illustrator and caricaturist for the magazines Harpers Young People , Humoristische Blätter , Ulk and the Lustige Blätter .
In 1901 Feininger married the pianist Clara Fürst, a student of Artur Schnabel and sister of the painter Edmund Fürst . After he met the artist Julia Berg , née Lilienfeld (1881–1970), in 1905 , he separated from his wife Clara and his two daughters Leonore and Marianne. In February 1906 he visited Julia in Weimar , where she studied at the Grand Ducal Art School. Together they traveled to Paris in July, where their son Andreas (1906–1999) was born. In July 1906 Feininger met Robert Delaunay and Henri Matisse in Paris . He graduated with the Chicago Sunday Tribunea contract for two comic series, The Kin-der-Kids and Wee Willie Winkie's World , which are now counted among the classics of the genre, but both were discontinued early. In 1908 Lyonel and Julia married and settled in Berlin. They had two other sons, Laurence (1909–1976) and Theodore Lux (1910–2011). In 1909 he became a member of the Berlin Secession .
In 1911 six paintings by Feininger were exhibited at the Paris Salon des Artistes Indépendants ("Salon of Independent Artists") on the Pont d'Alma. The first contact with cubism took place . In 1912, the painter got to know the artist group Brücke and produced his first architectural compositions.
Together with the artists of the Blue Rider , he took part in the First German Autumn Salon in the Berlin gallery “Der Sturm” in 1913 at the invitation of Franz Marc . In 1914 Feininger made an etching and prepared artistic models of trains for industrial toy manufacturing. He also had an exhibition with u. a. Moritz Coschell in the Arnold Gallery in Dresden. After the outbreak of World War I , he returned to Berlin. Feininger's first solo exhibition opened on September 2, 1917 in the “Der Sturm” gallery. 45 paintings and 66 other works were shown. The gallery showed another solo exhibition in 1918New Art Hans Goltz in October in Munich . In November of the same year Feininger joined the November group initiated by Max Pechstein and César Klein and got to know Walter Gropius . In 1919 he was appointed by Gropius as head of the graphic workshop at the State Bauhaus in Weimar. In mid-August Feininger moved with his family to Gutenbergstrasse 16 in Weimar. Following the holistic approach of the Bauhaus, Feininger also devoted himself to music in 1921 and composed his first fugue .
Feininger liked to spend the summer months by the sea, initially alone on Rügen (from 1892), later with his wife Julia and their sons Andreas, Laurence and Theodore Lux on the island of Usedom , which he moved from quarters in Heringsdorf , Neppermin and Benz explored by bike and where he u. a. repeatedly painted the Benzer St. Petri Church , and from 1924 to 1935 in Deep on the Pomeranian Baltic Sea coast near Kolberg. During his stays at the sea he made many sketches ("nature notes"), the motifs of which he repeatedly used in later work.
Feininger cycle paths both around Weimar and on Usedom  follow in the artist's footsteps.
As part of the series “German Painting of the 20th Century”, the Deutsche Post issued a special stamp in 2002 with the painting “Market Church of Halle” by Feininger.