Lyonel Feininger (1871–1956) – Born on July 17, 1871 in New York City, Feininger studied art in Berlin and Hamburg, Germany, and in Paris, France, between 1887 and 1893. He was a cartoonist for German humor magazines and for the Chicago Tribune until 1908. In 1911, under the influence of French cubists—particularly Robert Delaunay—he turned seriously to painting, and in 1913 he exhibited in Berlin with Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), a German association of expressionist artists.
Feininger’s meticulously drafted works, representing buildings, locomotives, seascapes, and ships, are composed almost wholly of straight lines and colors planes. Even the light that illuminates his scenes is subdivided and partitioned into prismatic planes. In mature works such as Gelmeroda VIII (1921, Whitney Museum, New York City), his virtuosic use of overlapping veils of colored light creates an effect of dematerialization and mystery. Feininger taught at the Bauhaus in Germany from 1919 to 1933. He returned to the United States in 1937, where a new theme, skyscrapers, dominated much of his later work.