Lyonel Feininger: Photographs, 1928–1939
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, CA
Through March 2012
The American-German artist Lyonel Feininger, famous for his urban and landscape paintings, took up photography in 1928. Already a longtime collaborator with Walter Gropius—Feininger taught printmaking at the Bauhaus for almost a decade while Gropius was director—Feininger turned to the “mechanical” medium to explore the effects of light and shadow, reflections, and night imagery. A majority of his photographs have remained in relative obscurity. The exhibit Lyonel Feininger: Photographs, 1928–1939 at the Getty Center is the first U.S. venue to present a comprehensive collection of his photography.
Feininger’s photographs center on architecture: the hard geometric forms of the Bauhaus campus at night, and the Dessau railway station, as well as the urban and rural landscapes he encountered during his travels to Paris and the Baltic coast. The exhibit also presents his later work where, after the close of the Bauhaus by the Nazis, he became captivated by the surreally lifelike figures of mannequins in window store displays.
Photographs by Feininger’s son, T. Lux—a student at the Bauhaus—are exhibited alongside his father’s, including his photograph of Karla Grosch in “Dance in Metal” at the Bauhaus.
Feininger’s images, dominated by multiple exposures and dramatic contrasts, were captured using a Voigtländer Bergheil camera, which is on display along with his photographs. His explorations in photography as a means of creative expression and documentation marked the emergence of the German New Vision school of photography that began on the brink of World War II.