From Afar
Andreas Feininger – The Photographic Oeuvre.

20.01.2015 – 08.03.2015

The Zeppelin Museum acquired a large part of Andreas Feininger’s (1906-1999) estate: the Andreas Feininger Archive. It comprises 565 photo prints authorised by Feininger, of which 261 are hand-signed, several cameras, Kodak Super-XX film, and film boxes and cartridges, with which Feininger worked at the time.

The archive also includes original editions of LIFE Magazine, and catalogues, books and photo manuals published by the artist.   Today Andreas Feininger is seen to be one of the most influential photographers of the 1940s to 1980s, not only because of his artistic work, but also because of his theoretical texts.

Many of the photographs on display have become well-known classics. Besides his world-famous views of New York, visitors will have the opportunity to explore his experimental studies and his fascinating nature and landscape photographs. The important role his outstanding photographic technique played in making him famous becomes evident in these works. A telephoto lens he developed himself, for example, enabled him to take astoundingly detailed shots from a great distance.

For the first time, the Zeppelin Museum is presenting the complete Feininger Archive in a comprehensive exhibition – thus making it accessible not only to visitors, but also to research.

The Oeuvre
Like his father Lyonel Feininger, Andreas Feininger was interested in space, light, and structure. He analysed floral organisms and built constructions, but also sought inspiration in 1920s avant-garde photography, Bauhaus, and Bach’s fugues. Besides working with so-called photograms, photographic images produced without a camera by direct exposure to light, which had been known in this form since 1916, he also developed many new techniques through playful experimentation. For instance, by accidently leaving the lights on while developing a glass plate negative, he discovered solarisation, which is known as the Sabattier effect today: the negative turned black and only the outer contours of the object remained visible. He made a further discovery while rinsing a glass plate negative under a tap. The surface of the negative developed web-like cracks and thereby produced the so-called reticulation effect. Feininger also experimented with exposure times, with the superposition of diapostives and negatives, or created woodcut-like abstractions with shifts. Like the 20th century concept artists, Feininger often worked in series and variations. However, he was primarily influenced by New Objectivity with its detached and analytical approach. Especially during his time in New York he started to dispense with photographic tricks in favour of a very direct approach and a focus on the undistorted motif.

Feininger became famous for his magnificent architecture photographs of New York and Chicago, which he shot with a camera with a self-made telephoto lens. His fascination with skyscrapers comes across in many pictures and is exemplified by his use of different kinds of lenses as a means of enhancing the monumentality of the depicted structures, or in his experiments with different light situations or unusual perspectives. With his 4x5-inch camera, a model he made in 1940, Feininger was able to take pin-sharp photographs of his motifs, even from a distance of 20 kilometres. The enhanced depth the telephoto lens brought to his images is known as the telescope effect and is characteristic for many of his pictures.

But Feininger also built cameras which provided a microscopic view of his subjects of choice. He primarily used this technique for close-ups of motifs such as shells, blossoms, or dragonfly wings, which he was able to make visible in this way.

As a rule, Feininger developed his films himself. In the 1960s he assigned this task to a laboratory, but continued to create the prints and enlargements himself. Only when he stopped photographing in 1988 did he have a studio specialised on black and white photography produce so-called “exhibition prints”.

By 1999 Feininger had published 50 books on photography, some of which were translated into 14 different languages.

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