It was a school that combined crafts and fine arts, and conceptually followed a basic idea that mass-production was reconcilable with individual artistic spirit. Founded at Weimar in 1919, Bauhaus concepts of art were particularly influenced by Modernism. That is, characterized by economy of method, rationalism, functionality, geometry of form, and design that took into account the nature of the materials employed. It was also a reaction against the status-quo. The Bauhaus style was consistently renewed but based on the same concepts such that it gave rise to extensive opposition from conservative politicians and those in academia , some of which were valid, but like many developments in arts, it was the insularity and hermetcism of the dominant classes and art forms which result in innovations…
He was perhaps overshadowed by his famous father, Lyonel,one of the first group of hand picked artists selected by Walter Gropius to teach at the Bauhaus in Weimar. T. Lux Feininger was both a painter, and a photographer who used the camera to archive to assemble a visually compelling record of the artistic avant-garde between the wars in Germany.He died at 101 and it was quite a life. Not many students can claim to have studied painting with the likes of Josef Albers, Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky. But T.Lux’s story would be incomplete without the father…
Lyonel Feininger began his career as a cartoonist and illustrator — a very successful one and a very original one. He was so successful that in 1906, after working for a dozen years in Germany, he was offered a job as a cartoonist at the Chicago Tribune, the largest circulation newspaper in the Midwest. He worked there for a year, inventing what became the standard design for the comic strip: in the words of John Carlin, “an overall pattern. . . that allowed the page to be read both as a series of elements one after the other, like language, and as a group of juxtaposed images, like visual art.” His originality did not end there: he went on to become one of the great abstract painters. Like Kandinsky, music was his model, but Kandinsky only knew music from the outside — as a listener (inspired initially by Wagner, then by Schoenberg) — while Feininger knew it from the inside. He was born into a musical family — his father was a violinist and composer, his mother was a singer and pianist, and at the age of 16 he left New York, where he was born (1871), to study music and visual art in Germany, from where his parents emigrated. Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/kuspit/lyonel-feininger-at-the-whitney-7-12-11.aspa
The Bauhaus was not really a place, but rather than a continually evolving state of mind.A spirit. Gropius started it in 1919 as a blend of mystical retreat and high class trade school. It soon became a training ground for many of artists, designers, and architects who were crucial to European Modernism but whose works don’t necessarily conform to the tubular minimalism usually connected with the Bauhaus. What usually defines bauhaus is a reaching for the noble within the modern context: the in-between space in relation to art and technology.
But,Bauhaus was also an intentional and deliberate break from the past. If one looks at the coziness of bourgeois existence in the preceeding generation, the 1880’s, there was actually a rather obvious message in the bourgeois home that stated, “you have no business here.” As Walter Benjamin wrote, there was not not a square inch in which one had not left a trace of his own. Brechet’s “erase the trace” was a Bauhaus ethos. In the bourgeois room the opposite behavior was seen as an ethos in the strictest sense, that is to say, according to Benjamin: a habit. Indeed, he wrote, “leaving traces is not just a habit, but the primal phenomenon of all the habits that are involved in inhabiting a place.”
Kuspit: It was untimely of Feininger to remind us that the age-old task of art is to imaginatively enlighten us about our experience by giving its content formal presence, making it uncannily significant, confirming that content is inherently mysterious — so-called pure form borrows its “mystery” from the content from which it is derived (form is transformative; when it becomes pure, an end in itself, it has lost perceptual purpose, diminishins esthetic appeal) — but it is what makes his abstract illustrations timely today.
For Feininger, abstract art was a way of transfiguring and redeeming experience, the way Bach’s fugues and chorales — “Bach’s mighty tones,” which Feininger played on the organ — do. His abstractions are also “world-enraptured transfiguration[s],” as he suggests.(2) As Bryan Gilliam writes, Feininger “adopted his father’s metaphysical notions of music as a meta-art, a healing space where an imperfect human soul, ‘failed by visual expression, coils its way in sound to peace and calm’.” Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/kuspit/lyonel-feininger-at-the-whitney-7-12-11.asp
The products ofthe Bauhaus-ssentially a limited repertoire of specialized,luxury objectsrepresent a paradigmatic example by which to examine the intellectual aspirations of modernism against its social and material reality. As highly legible expressions of affluence, the object-types produced under Gropius’s direction-silver and ebony tea services, chess sets marketed as “luxury”-spoke mainly to an elite. Not only was their reproducibility limited by their costly fabrication and materials, but their bourgeois natwe stymied the school’s ideological and social project. Walter Benjamin’s assessment of the status of the work of art in a mechanical age is used to differentiate production from reproduction; reproduction, as both a practical and a theoretical construct, is precisely where a mateial and economic failure at the Bauhaus took place.Read More:http://www.fa.hku.hk/SeminarSeries/poster_Schuldenfrei_001.pdf
But he was clearly ahead of his time — a “postmodernist,” if postmodernism involves the realization that tradition is all that is left of art, or, rather, that all art has become traditional — that Old Master art and modern art are equally traditional — that is, historical, part of the same Museum of the Imagination, as Malraux called it. The future of art depends on their imaginative synthesis — the kind of synthesis Feininger offers us: a convincing synthesis of Old Master art, which is always illustrational and communicative, always speaks to human experience, which is why it has popular appeal, whatever its stylistic credentials; and modern abstract art, which, perhaps paradoxically, is also illustrational, for it illustrates art, suggesting that it is an edifying idea and experience in itself, and as such radically unique and significant, which is why it appeals to the esthetic elite, that is, the happy few who can appreciate “the art in art,” who borrow their sense of significance from art, without worrying whether it communicates anything humanly significant, even if they sometimes try hard to suggest that it does.
Feininger’s paintings represent something, not just themselves, as abstract paintings tend to do. Feininger’s paintings have their important place in musical abstraction, but they have a more important place in the dialectic of content and form that has made art important since in antiquity. And, perhaps to overstate the matter, it is the only reason it is important. Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/kuspit/lyonel-feininger-at-the-whitney-7-12-11.asp
“Seeking to travel light, he saw the acquisition of property as a snare to be avoided,’’ he wrote in “Lyonel Feininger,’’ a 1974 book edited by June L. Ness. “I find some kind of significance in the fact that my father never owned a house of his own, nor learned to operate a car… . He needed privacy but detested solitude; he greatly enjoyed the presence of his family – but in another room.’’
That distance may have aided father and son when Mr. Feininger began painting in 1929….
…“He never obtruded a view, did not interfere,’’ Mr. Feininger wrote of his father in a 1983 essay for The Christian Science Monitor. “I recall best his occasional plea to remember what painting was about: the artist’s responsibility to discover ‘his form,’ and not to get lost in anecdotal preoccupation with subject matter or ‘photographic shading’ of surface values.’’Read More:http://articles.boston.com/2011-07-18/bostonglobe/29787678_1_bauhaus-paintings-lyonel-feininger/2