From his beginnings as a caricaturist to his final years, when his paintings reached for a transcendental dissolution of subject matter, Lyonel Feininger (1871–1956) devoted enormous energy to the exploration of his themes and the development of his style through drawings. Alongside the many thousands of “nature notes” (quick, small sketches from life) are more elaborate, larger-scale drawings and watercolors that convey the richness of the artist’s development. The Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum is the principal repository of the nature notes. It is also the recent recipient of over 400 finished drawings and watercolors from the estate of the legendary curator William S. Lieberman, a remarkable trove from which this exhibition of nearly 80 works was selected. These drawings and watercolors, many of which have never been studied or exhibited before, present Feininger’s various techniques and trace the wide range of emotional content these works embody, from whimsical humor, through nostalgia for land- and seascapes, to darker moods. Curated by Peter Nisbet, former Daimler-Benz Curator of the Busch-Reisinger Museum and current Chief Curator at the Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Nisbet is the author of the accompanying catalogue. Organized by the Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, in cooperation with the Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, and the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München.
The exhibition, tour, and catalogue were funded through the generosity of the German Friends of the Busch-Reisinger Museum, the Terra Foundation for American Art, the Dedalus Foundation, Inc., and the Emily Rauh Pulitzer and Joseph Pulitzer Jr. Fund for Modern and Contemporary Art, Harvard Art Museums.