Lyonel Feininger: Photographs

France, 1931

France, 1931

Lyonel Feininger

Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum

Lyonel Feininger

Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum

Lyonel Feininger

Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum

Lyonel Feininger

Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum

Lyonel Feininger

Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum

Lyonel Feininger

Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum

Feininger completed the Halle commission in the spring of 1931 and spent several weeks in June and July in France. He first visited his old friends Margery and Theodore Spicer-Simson (a sculptor and Lux Feininger’s godfather) at their home in Bourron, a village southeast of Paris in the Seine-et-Marne region. During his visit, Feininger made photographs with his Bergheil camera as well as his newly acquired Leica, which used 35mm film. He also took two trips to Paris, revisiting and photographing the neighborhoods in which he had lived twenty-five years earlier. Primed by his recent experience of walking the streets and photographing the old buildings of Halle, Feininger focused his Parisian photographs similarly on architecture and street scenes. These images often evoke his early sketches of decrepit Parisian buildings made between 1906 and 1908, as well as the contemporary, surrealist interest in the “romantic ruin.”

From Bourron Feininger traveled to Brittany, where he and Lux went on a bicycle tour of various coastal towns, including Saint-Malo, Douarnenez, Tréboul, and Concarneau. Now using his new Leica camera almost exclusively, Feininger photographed the bustling activity around the harbors, with their fishing and sailing vessels and colorful local inhabitants, as well as details of the vernacular architecture.