Artwork Detail

Brücke I (Bridge I)
American, 1871–1956
Oil on canvas
31 1/2 x 39 1/2 "
University purchase, Bixby Fund, 1950
WU 3822
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Born in the United States, Lyonel Feininger spent most of his life in Germany and was a member of the German Expressionist group Der Blaue Reiter, whose works demonstrate a commitment to spirituality, subjective expression, and formal innovation. Brücke I is the first in a series of six works depicting a stone bridge over the Ilm River in the city of Weimar. Feininger employed the faceted planes of Cubism that he had encountered two years earlier during a visit to Paris to explore the correspondences between the architectonic structure of the bridge, the simple geometry of the houses beyond, and organic forms of nature. The overlapping planes of translucent color play across the canvas in a series of repeating arches and curving forms, imparting a feeling of energy and rhythm as well as a sense of order and harmony. The work’s evocation of the Gothic architecture of German cathedrals combined with its integration of the man-made and natural worlds suggests spiritual elevation within the context of modernization’s fragmentation and crisis of faith. [Permanent collection label, 2017]