Two years ago, the National Gallery of Canada
(NGC) received an extraordinary donation of 252 exquisite photographs by Andreas Feininger, one of the greatest modernist photographers. Best known for his dynamic urban views of Manhattan and Chicago, Feininger left a legacy on his 1999 death at 93 of 346 Life magazine photo-essays, thousands of photographs and more than 50 publications. Beginning this Saturday, until August 28, visitors to the NGC can enjoy 27 of these remarkable works in Gallery C202b.
"Andreas Feininger's photographs reveal his technical virtuosity and his incisive eye," said NGC director Marc Mayer. "We are grateful to his family for the gift of these important works."
Modernist photographer Andreas Feininger's vast body of work spans a period of nearly six decades. From his dynamic urban views of New York to his extreme close-ups of natural forms, Feininger's work shows his instinct for graphic forms and patterning, and his ability to highlight the sculptural qualities of objects. His urban scenes convey his excitement at the visual complexity of city life, while his macro-photographs of shells and bones, often interpreted through a highly surrealist lens, demonstrate his fascination with the elegant precision of nature.
Feininger's vision is unified by an attraction to the organizing principles behind both constructed and natural forms. After studying at the Bauhaus in Germany, and training as an architect, Feininger worked in Paris and Stockholm before establishing his career in the United States, first as a photographer for the Black Star Picture Agency and then with Life magazine. He was technically inventive, devising his own super-telephoto and super-close-up cameras. He even built his own radio in 1927, seen in his self-portrait of that year. This selection of 27 photographs reveals the keen insight of a photographer who never ceased his quest for order and beauty in the world around him.
Several other exquisite photographs by Feininger will be included in the exhibition Made in America 1900-1950. Photographs from the National Gallery of Canada, opening this fall.