A new look at the BauHaus Photographic Legacy: Lyonel Feininger at the Getty

The BauHaus Design School, although open for a relatively short time, 1919-1933, was a swirling collection of artists and designers whose influences are still strongly felt today.

Of course, you are familiar with the photographic work of László Moholy-Nagy. As a professor at the BauHaus, his work influenced more that just the students.

Lyonel Feininger, world renown painter and also a BauHaus professor, was intrigued and inspired by the medium as used by Maholy-Nagy.

The current exhibit at the Getty Museum explores this newly discovered treasure trove of images.

Expertly curated by Laura Muir of the Harvard Art Museum, and Virginia Heckert of The Getty Museum, gives you a taste of this master painters foray into the “mechanical” world of photography.

The young history of photography gets a further chapter added with this exhibit, and the separation between painting and photography, gets slimmer.
One day we’ll also explore the influence of the Futurists and the photography of Anton Guilio Bragaglia
We feel this show goes a long way into this subject, and spreading the word of the power of the still photographic image and it’s place in the art world.
We thank the Getty Museum for all they do.

You’ll also get a look at how the students of the Bauhaus experimented with photography.

And it wasn’t all work.

Artist: T. Lux Feininger (American, born Germany 1910 – 2011)
Title/Date: [Bauhaus Band performing]., about 1928 – 1929
Medium: Gelatin silver print
© Estate of T. Lux Feininger
Credit: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Yeah, it was playground as well. Like a part of all art schools are.
Lyonel Feininger’s son was indeed named T.Lux.

The timing of this exhibit comes right after a major retrospective of his painting at The Whitney Museum in NYC, so if you’re traveling between coasts you’ll get a full picture

With comparative images giving an insightful look into the process, they have some examples of the sketch becoming the basis for the photograph.
It may seem simple now, but was an unusual process then.

Artist: Lyonel Feininger (American, 1871 – 1956)
Title/Date: Untitled [Bölbergasse, Halle], probably 1929
Copyright: © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Object Credit: Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Gift of Julia Feininger

Artist Lyonel Feininger (American, 1871 – 1956)
Title/Date: Untitled [Bölbergasse, Halle], 1929 -1930
Copyright: © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Object Credit: Stiftung Moritzburg – Kunstmuseum des Landes Sachsen-Anhalt, Halle

Always a great addition to any photography exhibit, is seeing the photographers original camera:

Don’t miss all of the photographs from others at the Bauhaus. the Getty has dipped into their extensive collection to put together this thick addendum to the Feininger exhibit.

Click here to get directions and hours.

here is the official press release:

Lyonel Feininger Photographs

When Lyonel Feininger (1871–1956) took up the camera in 1928, the American painter was among the most prominent artists in Germany and had been on the faculty of the Bauhaus school of art, architecture, and design since it was established by Walter Gropius in 1919. For the next decade, he used the camera to explore transparency, reflection, night imagery, and the effects of light and shadow. Despite his early skepticism about this “mechanical” medium, Feininger was inspired by the enthusiasm of his sons Andreas and T. Lux, who had installed a darkroom in the basement of their house, as well as by the innovative work of fellow Bauhaus master, László Moholy-Nagy.

Although Lyonel Feininger would eventually explore many of the experimental techniques promoted by Moholy-Nagy and practiced by others at the school, he remained isolated and out of step with the rest of the Bauhaus. Working alone and often at night, he created expressive, introspective, otherworldly images that have little in common with the playful student photography more typically associated with the school. Using a Voigtländer Bergheil camera (on display in the exhibition), frequently with a tripod, he photographed the neighborhood around the Bauhaus campus and masters’ houses, and the Dessau railway station, occasionally reversing the tonalities to create negative images.

Lyonel Feininger: Photographs, 1928–1939 also includes the artist’s photographs from his travels in 1929–31 to Halle, Paris, and Brittany, where he investigated architectural form and urban decay in photographs and works in other media. In Halle, while working on a painting commission for the city, Feininger recorded architectural sites in works such as Halle Market with the Church of St. Mary and the Red Tower (1929–30), and experimented with multiple exposures in photographs such as Untitled (Street Scene, Double Exposure, Halle) (1929–30), a hallucinatory image that merges two views of pedestrians and moving vehicles.

Since 1892 Feininger had spent parts of the summer on the Baltic coast, where the sea and dunes, along with the harbors, rustic farmhouses, and medieval towns, became some of his most powerful sources of inspiration. During the summers Feininger also took time off from painting, focusing instead on producing sketches outdoors or making charcoal drawings and watercolors on the veranda of the house he rented. Included in the exhibition are photographs Feininger created in Deep an der Rega (in present-day Poland) between 1929 and 1935 which record the unique character of the locale, the people, and the artistic and leisure activities he pursued.

In the months after the Nazis closed the Bauhaus, and prior to Feininger’s departure from Dessau in March 1933, he made a series of unsettling photographs featuring mannequins in shop windows such as Drunk with Beauty (1932). Feininger’s images emphasize not only the eerily lifelike and strangely seductive quality of the mannequins, but also the disorienting, dreamlike effect created by reflections on the glass.

In 1937 Feininger permanently settled in New York City after a nearly 50-year absence, and photography served as an important means of reacquainting himself with the city in which he had lived until the age of sixteen. The off-kilter bird’s eye view he made from his eleventh-floor apartment of the Second Avenue elevated train tracks, Untitled (Second Avenue El from Window of 235 East 22nd Street, New York) (1939), is a dizzying photograph of an American subject in the style of European avant-garde photography, and mirrors the artist’s own precarious and disorienting position between two worlds, and between past and present.

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