One of the most versatile talents of the modern art movement in Germany, the American-born Lyonel Feininger (1871–1956) is celebrated as a master of caricature, ﬁgurative painting, and a distinctive brand of cubism. He worked with ﬂuency in oil, watercolor, and woodcut, but he also created a fascinating body of photographic work that is virtually unknown. Although he made photographs as early as 1905, he did not take up the camera with serious artistic intent until 1928, when he was serving as a master at the Bauhaus, the inﬂuential German school of art and design founded by the architect Walter Gropius in 1919. Photography quickly became an important part of his artistic life, and it remained so for the next two and a half decades.
The majority of Feininger’s surviving photographs (some ﬁve hundred vintage prints) are in the collection of Harvard’s Houghton Library, and his negatives and slides are part of the Harvard Art Museums’ extensive Lyonel Feininger Archive in the Busch-Reisinger Museum. Comprising approximately eighteen thousand objects, from early family snapshots to Feininger’s color-slide work of the 1940s and ’50s, this collection provides a comprehensive view of the artist’s extended engagement with photography.
This website allows visitors to search the photographic collections of the Lyonel Feininger Archive by entering search terms or using the drop-down menus listed under “Search Photographs” on the right. It also provides a chronology, a bibliography, and short descriptive summaries of his many photographic subjects, over a period of ﬁfty years. Each essay is accompanied by a slide show of representative images, and highlighted words link to all of Feininger’s images of a particular location or subject.
The paintings, drawings, prints, sketches, and comic strips in the Lyonel Feininger Archive may be viewed by returning to the Harvard Art Museums’ collection search page and conducting a general keyword search for “Feininger,” or a more reﬁned search based on a work’s speciﬁc medium.