Andreas Feininger, T. Lux Feininger, Lyonel Feininger
A Family Passion: Photographs by Andreas, T. Lux, and Lyonel Feininger
On the occasion of the exhibition Andreas Feininger. New York in the Forties at the Bröhan-Museum, Berlin, I am pleased to present a viewing room featuring a selection of 18 vintage gelatin silver prints by Lyonel Feininger (1871–1956) and his sons Andreas (1906–1999) and T. Lux (1910–2011).
In 1927, Andreas built a darkroom in the basement of the Feininger family’s master house at the Bauhaus, Dessau. Soon photography became a passion for him, his brothers T. Lux and Laurence (1909–1976), and their father. A year later a proud Lyonel could report to Alfred H. Barr, Jr.: “All three boys are good amateurs with the camera and of course do their own developing and printing, on which so much depends.” Lyonel’s pride was not without merit, since by then both Andreas and T. Lux were represented by the Berlin photo agency DEPHOT, and in 1929 their photographs were shown alongside those of László Moholy-Nagy and Hugo Erfurth at the Film und Foto exhibition of the Deutscher Werkbund in Stuttgart.
T. Lux started photographing in 1925, when he found an old Kodak box camera. A year later, he bought a Voigtländer Bergheil plate camera with which he made his iconic photographs of life at the Bauhaus. “I wanted life, movement, faces, and the human forms,” he wrote in his autobiography. “The Bauhaus architecture which fascinated me provided the stage on which the daily drama of being was performed.” One of his subjects was his father, who he frequently photographed during their extended stays in Deep (now Mrzeżyno) on the Baltic Sea.
Andreas started out as an architect and became seriously involved with photography after he moved to Sweden in 1933. He began publishing books about photography and continued to work as a professional photographer after he immigrated to the United States in?. There he became best known for his city, landscape, and nature photographs, which were frequently published in LIFE, where he was a staff photographer from 1943 to 1962. In the early 1950s, Andreas initiated a series portraying various professionals with the tools of their fields, as in The Photojournalist, 1951, his portrait of the young photojournalist Dennis Stock.
Lyonel started out as a photography skeptic, but by 1928, he had enthusiastically embraced the medium. He enjoyed exploring the interplay between light and shadow, as well as discussing photography with his sons. Like T. Lux, he acquired a Voigtländer Bergheil plate camera and made enlargements in the family’s dark room. He photographed the engine in (Steam Locomotive), c. 1928, in Dessau’s main train station. During exposure he may have used gauze or nails to create the pattern overlaying the image. In 1935, while living in Berlin, he enjoyed photographing people on the street with telephoto lenses. As he wrote to Andreas: “‘The long focal length’ was always the starting point of my painting-perspective and now I see it reinforced in photo-science. Gorgeous!”