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© 2011 New-York Historical Society logo

Guide to the Andreas Feininger Photograph Collection
[1939]-1954, 1970-1984
  PR 207

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400

© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Jennifer Lewis

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on August 06, 2014
Description is in English.

Biographical Note

Andreas Feininger (1906-1999) was born in Paris to American painter and teacher Lyonel Feininger and Julia Berg. He attended public school and Gymnasium in Germany, and from 1922 through 1925 apprenticed as a cabinetmaker at the Bauhaus in Weimar, where his father was head of the Graphics Workshop. Between 1925 and 1928, Feininger studied architecture, first at the Staatliche Bauschule Weimar and then at the Anhaltische Bauschule zu Zerbst, from which he graduated summa cum laude. While studying architecture, he developed an interest in photography and set up his own darkroom.

While working as an architect in Germany between 1928 and 1931, Feininger developed his photographic skills and saw his photographs published in Der Photospiegel and other magazines and newspapers through the Dephot agency. By 1932, as an American, Feininger was barred from working in Germany by Hitler's regulations on foreign workers. He traveled to Paris, working for Le Corbusier for ten months before finding barriers to getting a French work visa during the depression. He moved on to Sweden in the summer of 1933, and in 1934 had set up a photography firm catering to architects. His work began being published in Swedish architectural journals, and published the first of several technical photography books he would write between 1934 and 1939,  Menschen vor der Kamera.

In 1934, Feininger met and married Gertrude Wysse Hägg, and their son Tomas was born the following year. In December of 1939, the family emigrated to the United States to escape the war, settling in New York. Feininger worked as a freelance photographer for the Black Star agency from 1940 through 1941, and then briefly for the U.S. Office of War Information in 1941 and 1942. He began doing some work for Life magazine in 1941, and in 1943 he was appointed staff photographer, a position which would garner him fame and recognition; he remained with the magazine until 1962. Feininger's first one-man exhibition,  The Anatomy of Nature, came in 1957 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Feininger continued to be a prolific writer and photographer, producing over 50 books, both technical and photographic, as well as writing columns for  Popular Photography and  Modern Photography. He has been the subject of several retrospective exhibitions, including one at the International Center of Photography in New York in 1976. Feininger died in New York on February 18, 1999 at the age of 92.