Moeller Fine Art

Lyonel Feininger: The Master Printmaker at the Bauhaus | A Selection of Woodcuts and Related Drawings

Lyonel Feininger: The Master Printmaker at the Bauhaus | A Selection of Woodcuts and Related Drawings

Lyonel Feininger

The exhibition features a rare collection of woodcuts and preparatory drawings for woodcuts that Lyonel Feininger (1871–1956) made between 1918 and 1921. The artist cherished these pristine works, most of which are drawn from his personal collection.

Feininger began making woodcuts in the spring of 1918. In the summer of that year, he and his family went on vacation to the scenic town of Braunlage in the Harz Mountains. The bucolic setting stimulated his work on his new medium.

Though Feininger was inspired by the natural surroundings of the Harz Mountains and their magnificent spruce trees, his subjects also emerged from his imagination and pictures his children made. He prepared for his woodcuts by making small pencil drawings on a sketchpad, producing inventive pictures of ships, trains, and hunting lodges. Feininger was so sure of these compositions that he promptly carved many of their motifs into wooden blocks. By the end of 1918, he had completed an impressive 117 woodblocks.

Feininger conveyed his ardent preoccupation with the medium in a letter to his friend, Alfred Kubin, in March 1919, writing, “I have hardly painted at all, nor made any drawings. The only thing I have done is take up woodcuts....This technique gives me so much pleasure and I just dropped everything else. But now it’s time for me to move forward enthusiastically with painting!”

This concentrated period of making woodcuts was instrumental in helping Feininger return to painting and drawing with renewed vigor. His engagement with woodcuts helped him to work out difficult aesthetic questions and became a crucial step in his artistic development.

Lyonel Feininger frequently numbered his woodcuts at the bottom center. In his numbering system, the first two digits indicate the year he made the woodcut and the last one to two digits serve to keep count of his production in a given year. For example, “184” means that Feininger made the woodcut in 1918 and it was his fourth one made that year, while “1829” means the 29th woodcut made in 1918.


Moeller Fine Art

Achim Moeller Ltd., founded in London in June 1972, moved to New York in October of 1984 as Moeller Fine Art Ltd. The gallery specializes in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century masterworks, and regularly organizes museum-quality exhibitions, including “From Daumier to Matisse: French Master Drawings from the John C. Whitehead Collection,” “Howard Wise: Exploring the New,” and “Between Friends: Giacomo Balla + Piero Dorazio,” “Lyonel Feininger + Mark Tobey.” Moeller Fine Art is the foremost gallery in the United States for works by German Expressionists and the Masters of the Bauhaus.

For nearly, fifty years, Achim Moeller, the gallery’s principal, has helped build important and substantial private and public collections that are coherent in concept, period, and quality. Moeller Fine Art also assists individuals and institutions with collection management, insurance valuation, tax and estate planning, and auction representation.

For further information, please contact +1 212 644 2133 or office@moellerfineart.com. To view highlights from the exhibition or to learn more about the artist, please visit our website.

Image Credit:

Installation Rendering of 1 Woodcut and 9 Preparatory Drawings for Woodcuts by Lyonel Feininger

Lyonel Feininger (1871–1956)

(Locomotive on the Bridge)

1918

Sheet: 7 3/16 x 9 5/16 (18.4 x 25.2 cm) | Image: 3 5/8 x 4 5/8 in. (9.1 x 11.7 cm)

Woodcut on tissue paper

Signed lower left: Lyonel Feininger | Numbered lower center: 18-66 | Inscribed lower right: I/II | Inscribed lower left: ♀[inverted] | Prasse W 81 I

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Lyonel Feininger (1871–1956)

(Train on a Bridge by Night)

1918

2 13/16 x 3 7/8 in. (7 x 10 cm)

Pencil on paper

Dated lower right: 24 VIII 18

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Lyonel Feininger (1871–1956), (Railroad Viaduct), 1919, Sheet: 15 x 19 1/2 in. (38.1 x 49.5 cm) | Image: 13 1/8 x 16 3/4 in. (33.3 x 42.5 cm), Woodcut on yellow Kozo paper, Signed lower left: Lyonel Feininger | Inscribed lower left: ♀[inverted] X | Prasse W 163

Lyonel Feininger (1871–1956)

(Wagon Crossing a Bridge)

1918

Mount: 8 5/8 x 11 in. (21.9 x 27.9 cm) | Sheet: 5 5/8 x 8 5/8 in. (14.3 x 21.9 cm) | Image: 3 1/8 x 4 7/16 in. (7.9 x 11.3 cm)

Woodcut on oatmeal-tan carbon-copy paper, mounted on paper

Signed lower left: Feininger | Numbered lower center: 1867 | Inscribed lower left: X | Prasse W 82

Wagon Crossing a Bridge_Prasse W 82.jpg

Lyonel Feininger (1871–1956)

(Bridge with Cart and Sailing Boat)

1918

2 13/16 x 3 7/8 in. (7 x 9.8 cm)

Pencil on paper

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Lyonel Feininger (1871–1956), Das Tor (The Gate), 1920, Sheet: c. 19 1/8 x 22 3/8 in. (48.4 x 56.8 cm) | Image: 16 1/6 x 17 3/4 in. (40.8 x 41.5 cm), Woodcut on Japanese laid paper, Signed lower left: Lyonel Feininger | Inscribed lower right: Das Tor | Prasse W 227

Lyonel Feininger (1871–1956)

(Mountain with a Village)

1918

Sheet: 7 5/8 x 10 1/4 in. (19.4 x 26 cm) | Image: 4 7/16 x 4 1/16 in. (11.3 x 10.3 cm)

Woodcut on Japanese laid paper

Signed lower left: Lyonel Feininger | Numbered lower center: 1830 a | Inscribed lower left: X | Prasse W 44

Mountain with a Village_ Prasse W 44.jpg

Lyonel Feininger (1871–1956)

(Three-masted Ship)

1919

Sheet: 5 x 6 5/8 in. (12.7 x 16.8 cm) | Image: 2 7/8 x 3 1/8in. (7.3 x 7.9 cm)

Woodcut on Japanese laid paper

Signed lower left: Lyonel Feininger | Numbered lower center: 1938 | Inscribed lower left: X | Prasse W 160

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Lyonel Feininger (1871–1956), (Set of 29 Preparatory Drawings for Woodcuts), 1918/1919, Each drawing c. 2 13/16 x 3 7/8 in. (7 x 10 cm), Pencil on paper

Paris Houses_Prasse W 76.jpg

(Paris Houses)

Lyonel Feininger (1871–1956)

1918

Sheet: 14 7/8 x 19 5/8 in. (37.8 x 49.8 cm) | Image: 13 1/8 x 15 1/4 in. (33.2 x 38.7 cm)

Woodcut on paper

Signed lower left: Lyonel Feininger | Estate stamp lower right (G W No. 177) | Prasse W 76

Lyonel Feininger (1871–1956)

Kathedrale (Cathedral)

1919

Sheet: 12 x 9 1/2 in. (30.4 x 24.2 cm) | Image: 7 x 4 1/2 in. (17.8 x 11.4 cm)

Woodcut on Japanese tissue paper

Signed lower left: Lyonel Feininger | Numbered lower center: 1922 | Titled lower right: Kathedrale | Prasse W 143 II - Prasse W 143 III

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Lyonel Feininger (1871–1956)

(Vollersroda)

1919

Sheet: 14 3/16 x 19 11/16 in. (36 x 49.9 cm) | Image: 10 x 11 7/8 in. (25.5 x 30.2 cm)

Woodcut on wove yellow paper

Signed lower left: Lyonel Feininger | Inscribed lower left:♀[inverted] Probedruck auf gelb unverkäuflich, Stock zerstört | Estate stamp lower right (G W No. 334) | Prasse W 188

Lyonel Feininger (1871–1956)

(Ship with Sun and Moon)

1921

Sheet: 6 5/8 x 9 3/4 in. (16.8 x 24.8 cm) | Image: 2 1/4 x 4 1/2 in. (5.7 x 11.4 cm)

Woodcut on Japanese laid paper

Numbered lower center: 2102 | Inscribed lower left: X | Prasse W 239

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Lyonel Feininger was born on July 17, 1871, in New York City. When he was 16 years old he began studying art, attending schools in Hamburg, Berlin, and Paris from 1887 to 1892. After completing his studies, he worked as a freelance cartoonist and illustrator in Berlin before moving to Paris, where, in 1907, he made his first oil painting. In 1917, he had his first solo exhibition at Galerie Der Sturm in Berlin.

One year after his solo exhibition, in 1918, Feininger started making woodcuts. He became enamored with woodcuts, producing an impressive 117 in his first year of learning the medium. In 1919 he was appointed as the first master at the newly formed Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar. His woodcut of a cathedral crowned by three stars illustrated the cover of the Bauhaus manifesto. It was among the 76 woodblocks he cut that year.

In 1921, Feininger became master of form and head of the Bauhaus printing workshop. Together with Walter Gropius, he initiated a series of print portfolios. His portfolio of 12 woodcuts plus a title page, became the school’s first publication. By 1926, he had cut 256 woodblocks. That same year he moved with the Bauhaus to its new location in Dessau, where he published a portfolio of 10 woodcuts.

From 1929 to 1931, Feininger worked on a series of paintings of the city of Halle (Saale). In 1935, the National Socialists (Nazis) declared his art “degenerate.” As the Nazis gained power, Feininger and his wife, Julia, determined that life in Germany was untenable. In 1937, after nearly 50 years in the country, he and his family left for the United States. He eventually settled back in New York.

In 1942, Feininger received a purchase prize from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Two years later, he was granted a retrospective with Marsden Hartley at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Feininger died on January 13, 1956.

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