Careful use of paint texture and cool colors add to the shimmering effect of a building dissolving into and emerging from the surrounding landscape at the same time. The sides and edges of the building blend into angles that seem to fracture the sky and ground creating a strange sense of space. Cubism is the name given this style of painting, as the image seems to be reduced to basic geometric shapes - cubes. We see the sides and top of the building from many different angles at once. Cubist artists like Feininger tried to capture the modern idea that what we know and understand about something is related to our shifting perspectives, rather than being fixed and unchanging. Feininger painted this church in a seaside village in Germany, where he spent some of his summers. The sky and building merge into one space through the abstracted angles of the building and the careful dabs of blended color.
Lyonel Feininger was born in New York in 1871 and moved to Germany at age sixteen to study violin. As a teen, he switched his focus to drawing and studied in Germany and France. He found work drawing cartoons and illustrations for American and German newspapers and magazines. He also met many innovative artists and explored painting in new abstract styles in 1912 and 1913. Feininger was interested in capturing the cities and towns he knew in modern, abstracted images. His use of color and the illusion of fractured space became his distinctive style. He exhibited his paintings in Germany and from 1918 to 1933, Feininger taught at the Bauhaus, a famous German school of modern architecture and design. With the growing political power of Hitler before World War II, the Bauhaus was forced to close and Feininger moved back to America. He continued to work as a successful artist in New York. In 1944 Feininger had a major exhibition of his work at the Museum of Modern Art. He continued to paint until his death at age eighty-five in 1956