Born on June 11 in Berlin-Zehlendorf, the third son of Julia (born Lilienfeld, married Berg, 1881-1970) and Lyonel Charles Adrian Feininger (1871-1956). His siblings are Andreas (1906-1999) and Laurence (1909-1976) and from the first marriage of Lyonel (with Clara Fürst, 1879-1944) the half sisters Eleonore ("Lore", 1901-1991) and Marianne (1902-1999).
[Julia Feininger with Andreas, Laurence and Theodore Lux and nurse; Foto: T. Lux Feininger Estate]
The family relocates to Weimar, where Lyonel Feininger is appointed ‘Meister’ (Master) at the newly established Bauhaus. The beginning of joyless school years in Weimar, the siblings suffer from the small town nationalism and anti-Semitism and the general hostile attitude against the members of the Bauhaus.
These middle-class bourgeois hated the Weimar Republic and its institutions...; people who had never cared a damn for the arts now felt compelled to side with anything that was anti-Bauhaus; from hating the product they arrived easily at hating the producers, and from them to their offspring was but a step. (T. Lux Feininger, My Life and Paintings, A Memoir, quote from manuscript)
[From left to right: Lux, Andreas, Laurence at "Penions Spiess" Braunlage, Harz Mountains, Summer 1918; Foto: T. Lux Feininger Estate]
Spends the summer with Erich and Sidi Heckel in Osterholz at the Firth of Flensburg. Visit to Hamburg.
[Lux in Weimar, around 1922, Foto: T. Lux Feininger Estate]
Till spring 1925 he and his brother Laurence attend the “Neue Schule” in Hellerau near Dresden, orientated on progressive education.
I have know, in Hellerau, moments of such luminous bliss of existence in body and soul as may well be mistaken for previews of the Elysian Fields... (T. Lux Feininger, My Life and Paintings, A Memoir, quote from manuscript)
The first summer stays with his father in Deep at the Baltic Sea [now: Mrzeżyno, Poland] continued yearly till 1935.
[T. Lux, Lyonel and Julia Feininger; Foto: T. Lux Feininger Estate]
Starts occupying himself with photography.
[His photographs of the years 1925-1936 gain fame because of their distinctive style. In his essay Philip Ursprung states: “Lux Feininger has a more relaxed and playful relation to the camera”, and continues: “In his photographs, the Bauhaus turned from a space of education to a stage for lifestyle [and] … recall the ideal of an autonomous, protected and free community” [2017, see: TEXTS]. – During the artist’s first years in the USA, until he joined the United States Army, 1936-1942, photographs were mainly taken in New York City. He stays focused on people, but is also fascinated by engines, harbor sceneries, trucks and traffic. – After the Second World War, while continuing this thematic interest, he expands his photographic oeuvre by artistic and technical experiments, 1945-1958; see entry in 1945.]
Move to Dessau.
At the age of sixteen-and-a-half he becomes student of the Bauhaus school in Dessau, starting the winter semester 1926-27 with the preliminary 'Vorkurs' of Josef Albers. As of the 2nd term (summer 1927, till 1929) stage workshop and stage class of Oskar Schlemmer. Postgraduate studies 1929-1932. Other teachers are Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. Active member of the Bauhaus Band (Banjo, Clarinet).
T. Lux Feininger, Foto: Werner Jackson (Isaacsohn) ca. 1926/27/Scan from 'Bauhaus Fotografie'
Represented by DEPHOT, the Berlin photo agency.
Member of the Bauhaus band (starts with the banjo, later also the clarinet), till 1932
He is proud to study at the bauhaus but he is obviously showing some scepticism, too. In a survey, printed by the 'bauhaus' journal he ("lux feininger, 4th semester, stage, only enrolled in school before") answers decidely to the question concerning the criticized education methods by bauhaus-opponents: (7) to me, the criticism of the bauhaus-adversaries seems to be invalid to the extent that i concider the leading heads at the bauhaus capable of choosing out of the "proven methodologies". However the criticism is valid, because particularly among the students a sometimes haughty general rejection of the past has found room. This seems particularly dangerous to me.
And when asked for "the contrast between "kunst" [art] in the conventional and "gestaltung" [design] in the new sense?" he answers evasively but nontheless self-confidently: (8) Due to my distinctive position, which maybe does not match the bauhaus, i am not going to comment on that. [bauhaus – zeitschrift für gestaltung 2/3, 1928, 2nd year, p. 24 et seq.]
[T. Lux with Banjo, Andreas photographing; foto: T. Lux Feininger Estate]
Participates at the FiFo. Film und Foto Internationale Ausstellung des Deutschen Werkbunds (The International Film and Foto exhibtion by the German Werkbund). Bauhaus degree. This summer he turns to painting, following a suggestion by his fellow student and friend, Clemens Röseler
Post-graduate studies at the Bauhaus, till 1932
[T. Lux Feininger & Hermann Clemens Roeseler, foto: Lore Feininger, Feininger Estate]
End of November represented with two paintings in the „Kunstblatt-Exhibition“ Künstler im Reich [Artists in the Reich], Reckendorfhaus, Berlin, under the name of Theodore Lux.
I had chosen to adopt the “nom-de-guerre” with my father’s encouragement, but against my mother’s opposition… The idea of signing with an unknown name came from Röseler. (T. Lux Feininger, My Life and Paintings, A Memoir, quote from manuscript)
Remarkable is the [spacial setup] seen in the in peculiar paintings by Theodor Lux.
This 20 year old from Dessau – he is born 1910, surprises with the awareness of surface tectonics. The shading of the colors, the unconventional silhouette of the figures, the spirited game of the straights and angles by the sailboats is completely determined by the rhythm of the surfaces. The "Einfahrt nach Havanna" may remind one of popular English colorprints, with the "Piratenschiff" the coloring may still be a little too loud and too boisterous; but there is no mistaking that these compositions come from a young man, who has painterly composition skills in his blood and who seems mannered to develop his own species. (Paul Westheim, in Das Kunstblatt, December 1930, p. 358-369)
Although American born he needs to confirm citizenship of the United States of America, on the 18th of November.
Studio Dessau 1930, Foto: Lyonel Feininger
Exhibition of some paintings at the Bauhaus in Dessau.
At the Bauhaus, the same tendencies that had caused Schlemmer’s leaving the scene... rejected my paintings as “socially meaningless”. I fared better in the outside world... (T. Lux Feininger, My Life and Paintings, A Memoir, quote from manuscript)
Acquisition of photographs by Philipp Johnson for the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Summer trip to Switzerland; followed by Brittany.
Leaves home and moves together with Clemens Röseler in a studio community in the “Ziegelei”, the residence of a shut down brick factory.
The last couple of days Lux made very free, very good color drawings. He is in a new stage of inner growth. (Lyonel Feininger to Julia, Deep 17.9.1931)
[Ernst Egeler, right & Lux Feininger, left, in Fontana Martina, Ronco, Lago Maggiore, June 1931; Foto: T. Lux Feininger Estate]
Solo exhibition in Kunstverein Erfurt, accompanied by considerable interest and some sales.
Visits his brother Andreas in Hamburg. One-month stay in Paris. First invitation to exhibit at the Carnegie International Exhibition in Pittsburgh. Participation in the exhibitions in the years 1933 - 1937, 1943 and 1946 - 1948.
Lux is starting, undergoing a noticeable, important new-orientation in his painterly work, now that he is working with the right paper, in a bigger format, and with charcoal outline. Initially he had a hard time, to accept – but after only a few attempts, almost inevitably, he came to an advanced visual view and to a bigger image perception, that gives a lot to expect. (Lyonel Feininger an Julia, Deep 9.6.1932)
Autumn move to Paris.
Up to 1935 annual trips to Germany and Sweden.
[Lyonel und Lux; Foto: Julia Feiningr, verso: "gosh! that was a good one!", T. Lux Feininger Estate]
Participation in the International exhibition of the College Art Association in New York and Cleveland.
[Foto: T. Lux Feininger Estate]
In Paris he just had moved into the beautiful, shining, new apartment in the new building situated at No. 93, avenue des Moulineaux, in the town of Boulogne-sur-Seine, au cinquième, when the news of the death of his fellow student and friend Hermann Clemens Roeseler arrived. He decides to support Edith, Clemens' widow, and travels to Coblenz. Given these impressions, back in Paris, he paints "Burial at Sea". And: Fourty-four years later, I painted my picture of the wedding, "The Marriage at Coblentz". (T. Lux Feininger, My Life and Paintings, A Memoir, quote from manuscript)
We've enjoyed beautiful weeks with the boys; first came Lux, in May. My, did he look skinny! but whatever did happen to him? A young god in bronze! (Lyonel Feininger to Ilse Garbe [see photo], 28.7.1934)
And soon Lux will come too, and it will almost be like before. The good, he is fed up with Paris, but his writings about his last work sound very encouraging. (Lyonel Feininger to Julia, Kuhtz 13.10.1934)
[Photo: T. Lux in Deep 1934, Foto: Lyonel Feininger]
January returns from Paris to Berlin. Sale of one of the paintings shown at the International Carnegie Exhibition, Pittsburgh.
Emotionally I was ready to leave Paris; I was not tempted by sudden wealth to have another shy at staying. … My parents had settled in Berlin-Siemensstadt after their peregrinations of 1933-34 and were counting on my arrival. (T. Lux Feininger, My Life and Paintings, A Memoir, quote from manuscript)
Solo exhibitions in the Gallery Karl Nierendorf, Berlin and the Gallery Commeter, Hamburg. Stay in Hamburg, sketches in the harbor and at the Elbe river.
Theodor Lux, an artist, represented by the Gallery Nierendorf, does not make the impression of a beginner, with an abundance of moderately large paintings from his fantastic-romantic world, again and again dominated by the rigging and the sails of ships. (Anonymous, in: Die Weltkunst, 3.2.1935)
Lux had just sold 3 pictures in Hamburg – small ones – for a very reduced price. He’s happy and it means enough for him to get over the summer, all in all. No criticisms as yet, and – a very hard knock for the boy. The Kulturk. [Reichskulturkammer] has written, demanding to receive proof that Lux is “arisch” - … the matter can rest for a few days – Lux has time until the 25th of the month for his answer, you may be able to help with advice. (Lyonel Feininger to Julia, Berlin 1.4.1935)
Was in town to see Lux’ pictures at Nierendorf’s and to speek with Karl N. about the affairs of the K.K. [Reichskulturkammer]. (Lyonel Feininger to Julia, Berlin 3.4.1935)
Yesterday was exceptionally warm and the sun was also out, and I was out walking for almost 3 hours - while Lux went out sailing in the morning in extremely choppy weather, he sat upstairs the whole of the afternoon at his easel. He creates. He creates enormously – basically with a frugality that such trouble-free creating makes possible – in the time he needs to finish a complete harmoniously executed painting, I would possibly, in effort and passion – serving the upheaval and final order - achieve the tenfold of labour and still not come to some result. Again and again I admire the logical simplicity of his creating, technical and representational – whilst I am chained to other premises that make battlefields out of my canvases […] Lux got notice from the K.K.-Affairs, to exhibit in Germany in the 3rd Reich foreigners do not need to belong the Kammer, the art exhibition organiser needs a permit for the exhibition. Consequently the whole sordid, painful question is taken from Lux and the boy is extremely relieved in his mind. (Lyonel Feininger to Julia, Deep 11.3.1935)
[Foto: Bauhaus-Archiv, Berlin]
Solo exhibition in the Gallery Karl Nierendorf, Berlin, good reviews and sales.
These are the hallmarks of success, but how ephemeral it was, is shown by a remark made to [Karl] Nierendorf’s brother Joseph … by a nazi-approved art critic, who tipped him a wink to stop showing “this Theodore Lux” if he wanted to remain unmolested. (T. Lux Feininger, My Life and Paintings, A Memoir, quote from manuscript)
November relocates from Bremerhaven to the United States of America. Farewell to his parents at the Lehrter Bahnhof railway station, Berlin, on November 5, 1936. Arrival in New York on 16th November 1936.
I did not leave for the United States until November 1936. I cannot remember what kept me another year in the doomed country. So far as physical comforts went, it was pleasant enough. But my mind was made up…: My persuasion, that the Nazis meant to start another war, was generally ridiculed. … But I remained unshakeable: the constellation of Reichswehr, brownshirts and forced labor, which I had seen beginning their work last summer, told too plain a tale in my eyes. All I wanted was, to be in a place where I could come in on the right side, when it began as I knew it must. (T. Lux Feininger, My Life and Paintings, A Memoir, quote from manuscript)
It had been my own, private and personal leave-taking, not from family and dear ones but from the native earth, air, speech and youth all at one. The sentiment that brought tears was a reminder that recognition of my part in this ghastly drama of nazification was overdue.
I must also say a word about my [65 year old] father’s failure to recognize his own position in regard to the Hitler threat. His wishful “certainty” that “all this” would blow over is the most serious fault I have to find with his judgement. … – When we parted company it was left open when and where we would meet again. I believe that it was only by March next year, that my father got the idea that almost anywhere was better than where he was, and as to time, it would be, the sooner the better. (T. Lux Feininger, My Life and Paintings, A Memoir, quote from manuscript)
[Lux and Julia Feininger; verso: The Meeting in Hamburg, August 1936. M[a]. & P[a]. return from U.S.A. [Mills Coll. 1st Summer], Foto: T. Lux Feininger Estate]
January solo exhibition at the Gallery Commeter, Hamburg
Theodor Lux, son of Feininger, exhibits the second time at Commeter. His marine paintings with their seafarer romance seem very well suited for the ‘Menschen der Waterkante’ [humans from the Watergate; citizens of Hamburg]. Sailers with full rigging, girls and sailors, sea and clouds, they are the ever recurring theme of these paintings. This painting, with the strong coloring, the clear plastic composition, the clean and presice accuracy in the treatment of all things makes the Biedermeier period come alive. (Karla Eckert, in: Hamburger Tageblatt, 13.1.1937)
The acclaim that the strange, decorative paintings by the son of Feininger, Theodor Lux, found last year, prompted Commeter to exhibit new works by this peculiar artist. Paintings with an ecstatic-romantic coloring, which combine precision and the fantastic in a curious however convincing melange. (Ernst Sander, in: Hamburger Fremdenblatt, 8.1.1937)
In New York the camera is his constant companion. He finds motives on the piers and in the streets of Manhattan - people, trucks, steamships and locomotives; some of those images are quoted in his drawings and some are condensed in paintings.
Impressed by the new city his initial view is a more documentary approach, but by 1939 his vantage point broadens again and his compositions gain creativity. This artistic creation process stops when the USA enters the war in 1941.
[T. Lux Feininger in apt. 511, E. 85 St. N.Y.C., Foto: T. Lux Feininger Estate]
After five years, in April happy reunion with his brother Laurence in New York City, but despite good and again confidential talks he insists of going back to Rome and left New York for Genoa in July. Less than a month later, Hitler had invaded Poland.
The coming of war could be forefelt by many signs of queer behaviour on the part of people, who, previously, had seemed rational and balanced. – As might be expected, my dreams were not idle either. ... (T. Lux Feininger, My Life and Paintings, A Memoir, quote from manuscript)
His intensive work of the past months is rewarded by the sale of some paintings to private collectors.
I had amassed a pretty nest-egg through several picture sales and signed a year’s lease for the 3rd floor apartment at 118 Perry St., without undue worries. (T. Lux Feininger, My Life and Paintings, A Memoir, quote from manuscript)
"We hope soon to have Lux here on a visit. For the present, he is hard at work, painting, in his little apartment on 85th Str. … He has been having much encouragement lately, and has been selling some paintings for very good prices. Critics are now getting alive to the fact that hewre is a decidedly original young American artist…" (Letter from Lyonel Feininger, Falls Village, CT, am 8. August 1939, addressee unknown)
Exhibtion together with Ben Shahn in the Julian Levy Gallery, New York.
He is profoundly shocked by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, 7th December (followed by the entry of the USA into the war and his draft for the army). And in later years this dramatic break leads him to devide his artistic oeuvre in "before Pearl Harbor" and "after Pearl Harbor".
Drafted in April; up to 1945 duty in the United States Army. Serving as TSgt with the Military Intelligence Division, War Department, during the period 19 Oct 1943 to 2 Sep 1945.
Military Intelligence makes use of his capabilities; 'Sgt. T. Feininger' draws images of enemy weapon systems and military positions which, collected in a restricted registry, are used by the troups for identifcation.
[Foto: T. Lux Feininger Estate]
Participates in the exhibition American Realists and Magic Realists in the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
November 11, marriage with Jeanne Sinon (Paterson, NJ 1914 – 1949 New York, NY).
[Foto: T. Lux Feininger Estate]
In the mid 1940s resumption of his artistic photography. New experimental tele-photos emerge, using binoculars, an opera glass (see photos upper left, and middle right) and a German army officer's field glass (below). "The photo was taken through a Zeiss Prismen binocular, held in front of the lens of a Pilot Reflex Camera. This procedure was an invention by me" [TLF verso on the photo: Watertower...]. For a period of about five years he finds his themes in the streets of Manhattan, at piers, railway stations, the East river... Andreas Feininger mentions this work in his reference book Advanced Photography - Methods and Conclusions, New York 1952, p. 74 ff.
[T. Lux Feininger, photograhic experiments, Fotos left: Andreas, right: T. Lux Feininger, 1952, T. Lux Feininger Estate]
Enrollment under the „G.I-Bill“ at the Institute of Fine Arts, N.Y.U., under Professors Salmony, Lopez-Rey, Friedlander und Cook.
[Lyonel, Andreas, Laurence und Jeanne; Foto: T. Lux Feininger Estate]
February solo exhibition in the Julian Levy Gallery, New York, there for he first time under the name of T. Lux Feininger.
[Foto: ART News 1947]
On May 16 Jeanne dies after long-term illness of stomach cancer in New York City.
[Foto: T. Lux Feininger Estate]
Design teacher at the Sarah-Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY, till 1952
Commencent 1952 at Sarah Lawrence: Kurt Roesch and Lux F. [Foto: Lyonel Feininger, T. Lux Feininger Estate]
Participates in the exhibition Revolution and Tradition in Modern American Art in the Brooklyn Museum, New York.
Moves to Cambridge, MA, Painting and Drawing teacher at the Harvard University.
Exhibition Four Painters in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, MA. Participates in the exhibition Reality and Fantasy in the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN.
December 17, marriage with Patricia (Pat) Jean Randall (Springfield, MA 9-1-1925 - 11-14-1999 Cambridge, MA).
[Foto: Lyonel Feininger, T. Lux Feininger Estate]
Participates in the exhibition Bauhaus-Maler at the Biennal in Sao Paolo, Brasil. Birth of his son Lucas.
Birth of his son Conrad.
Change from Harvard University to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School as Teacher for Drawing and Painting.
Retrospective in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, MA.
Buys and moves into the house at Arlington Street, Cambridge, during the Cuban Missile crisis, then maturing to its climax. ... The chief advantages, of course, to buying in this area was the quality of the neighbourhood in Pat’s eyes and therefore also in mine, because I trusted her judgement implicitly where the welfare of our children was involved. (T. Lux Feininger, My Life and Paintings, A Memoir, quote from manuscript)
[Arlington Street 22, Foto: SC 2011]
Birth of his son Charles.
Publishes with his brother Andreas, who made the photos, the book Lyonel Feininger. Die Stadt am Ende der Welt [City at the Edge of the World].
For Wysse und Andreas Feininger the T. Lux Feininger Retrospective Exhibition of the Trinity College at the Austin Arts Center in Hartford, CT, is the occasion for a visit on 22 Oktober; they spend several days together.
[Photo: Estate of T.Lux Feininger; f. l. t. r.: Lux, Conrad, Andreas, Lucas, Pat, Wysse]
Buys a historical house with workshop from a cooper, located near the fishing port in Westport Point, MA, where he and his family spend the summers.
Brief stay in Germany due to unresolved details of ownership regarding the works by his father.
[Lux, Lore and Laurence Feininger in Berlin, photo Galerie Nierendorf, Berlin]
Retires from teaching.
[T. Lux in Westport; Foto: Conrad Feininger]
Start of the compilation, documentation and archiving of his photographic Oeuvre, encouraged by the New York based galerist Eugene Prakapas For this exhibition the artist selects 202 early photographies, all listed on the "Bauhaus-related photographies".
First large photography exhibition T. LUX FEININGER. Photographs of the Twenties and Thirties, at Prakapas Gallery, New York (1.11.-13.12.1980), the exhibition is very well received.
[Studio Arlington Street 22; Foto: T. Lux Feininger Estate]
Second large exhibition of his photographic Oeuvre at Prakapas Gallery, New York (17.6.-15.7.1983); c. 100 photographs of the 1930s and 40s are shown.
Brief stay in Germany due to legally unresolved details of ownership regarding the works by his father as well as twelve paintings by himself.
Second exhibition in 'Gallery on the Green' in Lexington, MA
[T. Lux Feininger; Foto: T. Lux Feininger Estate]
Exhibition of paintings from the years 1954 till 1994 in the Gallery Achim Moeller Fine Art, New York.
[T. Lux and Pat in New York; Foto: Conrad Feininger]
Retrospective of the paintings in the Staatlichen Galerie Moritzburg in Halle/Saale afterwards in the Altonaer Museum in Hamburg.
On November 14 Particia (Pat) dies at the age of 74 in Cambridge, MA.
Exhibition of paintings and drawings together with works by his father Lyonel and photographies by his brother Andreas in the Städtischen Galerie Karlsruhe.
The autobiography „Zwei Welten. Mein Künstlerleben zwischen Bauhaus und Amerika“ is published in German language - added is a comprehensive essay by Wolfgang Büche, "T. Lux Feininger - Ein Leben in Bildern".
Anniversary exhibitons, „Welten-Segler T. Lux Feininger zum 100. Geburtstag Werke 1929-1942“, in the Kunsthalle zu Kiel, the Städtischen Galerie am Abdinghof Paderborn, ther Lyonel Feininger-Galerie Quedlinburg and in the galleries of the Stiftung Ahlers Pro Arte/Kestner Pro Arte in Hanover.
Dies in Cambridge on the 7th of July.
Memorial at the Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, October 23.
The jubilee of the founding of the Bauhaus school a 100 years ago prompts a great number of celebrations all over the world. Numerous photographies taken by T. Lux Feininger, during his time as a student at the Bauhaus Dessau, are displayed in various exhibitions and are widely reproduced in catalogues, films, essays and articles online and in print. Prof. Dr. Philip Ursprung, ETH Zurich: The photographs that Theodore Lux Feininger took as a teenager capture the Bauhaus way of life, even more than the formalist studies by the masters, Lázlò Moholy-Nagy und Lucia Moholy, Marianne Brandt, Josef Albers, Herbert Bayer und Lyonel Feininger. They do not focus on the iconic building in Dessau, but depict, from a student's perspective, everyday student life - at work, playing soccer, making music, sunbathing. They testify to the spirit of the acedemic community and the pleasure they found in learning. They also show that the students lived every moment to the fullest without seeming to waste their creativity.
The community already seemed to sense the pressures of constant performance, which was to shape immaterial labour and the "creative industry" from the end of the 20th century onwards. Life as such, the pictures tell us, has become the object of art - a raw materiel ready to be designed, but also to be marketed and consumed. We can learn even more from the students of the Bauhaus than we can from its masters. [P. Ursprung, Designing Life: The Relevance of the Bauhaus. DETAIL 5.2019, p. 6]
[Photographies by T. Lux Feininger at the Bauhaus Dessau]