Hansaflotte, 1920, Woodcut
Lyonel Feininger (German-American, 1871 – 1956)
Lyonel Feininger was a German-American painter born in 1871. He first began working as a cartoonist and caricaturist for popular French and American magazines. Twenty years into his career, Feininger decided to experiment with fine art. He began creating paintings, drawings, and woodcuts, drawing inspiration from Cubism and Orphism. Feninger went on to become involved with the German Expressionist group Der Blaue Reiter and the Bauhaus school. He is best known for the works he created during this time: oil paintings made up of architectural planes. Feininger left behind a lasting legacy. He founded his own group, the Die Blaue Vier, with artists Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Alexej Jawlensky in 1924. He exhibited at major institutions including the Berlin Nationalgalerie, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney American Museum of Art.
This piece, Hansaflotte, is a woodcut from 1920 that depicts a fleet of ships from the Hanseatic League, a northern European trading confederation. This work was created around the time when Feininger took his posts as form master and head of the print workshop at the Bauhaus school. His woodcuts from this time demonstrate dynamism and mastery. One of them, Cathedral, was used as the cover of the Bauhaus manifesto.