Germany in the 1920s would have been an exciting time for an artist. The First World War had ended and a period of stability and creativity, known as the "Golden Twenties" had begun, with Bauhaus and Expressionist movements in painting and film leading the way.
Lyonel Feininger's works in the Whitney Museum's "At the Edge of the World," which span his career, illustrate the influence such exciting times can have on an individual.
As the viewer moves from his earlier works, past the war and into the 1920s, the lines in his paintings straighten and the colors become more harmonious. The lively bustle of the communities in "Carnival in Arcueil" and "In a Village Near Paris" is replaced first with the alienation of "Architecture II" and finally with the spirituality of "Gelmeroda XIII."
Feininger's latest works, including the painted wooden carvings of "Group of Houses and Figures," were created in the wake of the Second World War and Nazi Germany, whose campaign against "degenerate art" forced Feininger to move to America. These figurines, childlike in form and bearing hesitant smiles, seem relieved that war is over, but perhaps no longer excited.
Lyonel Feininger's "At the Edge of the World" opened June 30 and runs through October 16, 2011 at the Whitney Museum of American Art, 945 Madison Ave NY NY 10021.