In the spring of 1936 Feininger accepted an invitation from the German art historian Alfred Neumeyer to teach a six-week summer course at Mills College in Oakland, California. In May he and Julia sailed from Hamburg to New York, then continued on to Cuba and the Panama Canal en route to Los Angeles. They spent a week with the dealer and gallerist Galka Scheyer in Hollywood before heading north to the San Francisco Bay Area.
In addition to documenting his journey to Oakland during the summer of 1936, and again in 1937, when he returned to Mills to teach a second summer course, Feininger photographed the school’s verdant campus, with its avenues of trees, rolling hills, and Spanish and Asian-inspired architecture. A number of these images are of college students, Alfred Neumeyer, and the architect Charles Ross, who had studied under Mies van der Rohe. Other photographs portray the dramatic California coastline and urban scenes in San Francisco.
At the end of their ﬁrst summer in California, and on their way back to Berlin, the Feiningers stopped in Stockholm to visit their son Andreas and his wife Wysse, and their grandson Tomas, who had been born the previous year. In addition to taking conventional tourist photographs, Feininger made a series of striking images of sunlight reﬂecting oﬀ windows in the city’s streets and alleyways. At the end of their stay in Sweden, Lyonel, Julia, and Lux (who had joined his parents in Stockholm) sailed back to Hamburg, where Feininger took the opportunity to photograph the city’s bustling harbor.