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Lyonel Feininger
Drawings and Watercolors
23. January to 5. April 1998
Lyonel Feininger is one of the most popular and acclaimed artists of the Classical Modernist period in Germany, whose work has been made accessible to the public through reproduction on calendars, postcards and large-scale editions of art prints. For those interested in art, the name Feininger will almost automatically conjure up images of sailing boats which seem to be gliding across the Baltic sea, dramatic cloud formations over water and the enigmatic architecture of the villages around Weimar with their churches and angular houses, given unique expression by Feininger in his paintings through his use of jagged shapes and the permeation of seemingly transparent layers of colour.
It is not an unknown fact that besides his paintings, the Bauhaus master also created an extensive oeuvre of graphic work; his works on paper have often been shown in exhibitions. However, these selections were based on the cliché of Feininger’s depictions of sailing ships and architecture, rarely looking beyond these to view the artist’s work as a whole. It is for this simple reason that the figurative early work by the former cartoonist and also the late work, created after he returned to his native New York in 1937 and featuring the skyscrapers of the American metropolis, have up till now been disregarded in comprehensive exhibitions of his graphic oeuvre.
The exhibition currently being pre pared by the Hamburg Kunsthalle is an attempt to present for the very first time the wide variety of drawings and watercolours by Lyonel Feininger and to show their significance in terms of his work as a whole. Altogether around 150 drawings and watercolours will provide a survey of the various stages of the artist’s development. The discovery of the early graphic works will come as a surprise to all those who until now have let themselves be taken in by the clichéd image of Feininger as a painter of sailing ships and architecture. They open up a world of comedy, of masquerade and clownery, but also of tragedy, drawing from the world of the great 19th century French novels, of Victor Hugo and Honoré de Balzac. Similarly, the exhibition will highlight the importance of the late work by the artist in his eighties who, having turned his back on Germany - his wife Julia was Jewish - had to come to terms with
completely new surroundings, and will show it for the first time in the context of his entire graphic oeuvre.
This exhibition, which has been conceived and organized by the Hamburg Kunsthalle and will subsequently be shown in the Kunsthalle Tübingen, encompasses works by Feininger from the years 1898 - 1955, on loan from important museums around the world and many international private collections. It is indeed a minor sensation that the exhibition has the committed support of the Feininger family, who have allowed access to their own collections for the very first time and have generously agreed to lend a number of these works. This has come about also as a result of a long-standing friendship between the artist’s family and the internationally acknowledged Feininger expert and curator  of the Hamburg Kunsthalle, Dr. Ulrich Luckhardt, who initiated and conceived this exhibition.

An extensive catalogue will be published to accompany the exhibition, with full colour illustrations and commentary on all the works on show.
Hamburger Kunsthalle Glockengießerwall 20095 Hamburg
Telephone 040 - 428 131 200 Facsimile 040 - 428 54 34 09
e-mail: info@hamburger-kunsthalle.de