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Ruins of the Sea

© 2013. Digital image, The Museum of Modern Art, New York/Scala, Florence

Lyonel Feininger

(1871 - 1956)

Date : 1930 | Medium : Oil on canvas

Lyonel Feininger was interested in all forms of art over the course of his career - illustration, engraving, caricature, photography, etc., but it was painting that remained his favourite medium for his expressive and formal studies. Feininger painted Ruines de la mer in 1930. This work, and his pictorial research more generally, can be directly connected to music. In the 1920s, Lyonel Feininger became an important figure in the Bauhaus movement and directed the school's graphic studio. It was during these years that he developed his ideas about music and painting, which were common interests among the avant-gardistes. These included Kandinsky and Klee, whose art reflected the same concerns. Feininger, the son of musicians and a musician and composer himself, was interested in the profound links which could bring music and painting together. He admired Bach's fugues and the composer was an important source of inspiration for his pictorial and musical compositions.

In addition to the musical aspect, Ruines de la mer also reveals the influence of Cubism on his treatment of the work. Feininger used graded colours to suggest volume, with geometric planes and a variety of inclines. The artist designed his church as a prism of light, through the superposition of planes and a desire for transparency.

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