City at the Edge of the World | Wooden toys by Lyonel Feininger (1913 - 1955)

Lyonel Feninger, working with small pieces of wood, 1951                                                      Lyonel Feininger, Toy Town, 1925 
 Lyonel Feininger, The City at the Edge of the World (1925–55)
Lyonel Feininger, The City at the Edge of the World (1925–55)
Lyonel Feininger, The City at the Edge of the World 
Lyonel Feininger, The City at the Edge of the World 
Lyonel Feininger, Untitled, 1944
 Four Figures and a Cat-Characters from The Kin-der-Kids and Wee Willie Winkie's
Lyonel Feininger, City At the Edge of the World 
Lyonel Feininger, A Group of Houses and Figures, 1949
Lyonel Feninger, working with small pieces of wood
Photo: Andreas Feininger

 Lyonel Feininger's love of boats, trains, and model making lasted from boyhood into old age.
As he developed his own style of lighthearted expressionism in his drawings, his model making
moved from precisely detailed realistic reproductions to more playful caricatured forms.

Lyonel Feininger (1871 - 1956), one of his sons, photographer Theodor Lux Feininger (second left),
 Central Park, New York, 1951


Living in Germany in the years leading up to World War One, he developed designs and
prototypes of toy trains for a Munich firm. The outbreak of war brought the project to a halt
just as the models were on the verge of going into production.

For most of the war years Feininger lived a withdrawn life, and after the war, new toys appeared.
His son, T. Lux, wrote:

 If the model trains of 1914 had been reasonable, the toys of the post-war years don't even try to be.
 Quite the contrary: proportion, harmony of related parts, any possibility of 'functioning' in the
 accepted sense of the word, has been abandoned. After 1914 my father made no more trains; 
from around 1920 on, houses, people and ships, are the subject matter of the carved playthings...

Lyonel Feininger, Eisenbahn (Lokomotive und vier Waggons), Kirche und fünf Häuser 
(in 11 parts of various sizes) , ca. 1913–1914

Lyonel Feininger started carving and painting wood around 1913, when he was working
on a commission for a Munich-based toymaker.

Houses, 1920s-1940s


I can’t remember when exactly the toy town had begun; but in 1921 already my father writes that
 “the time for my periodical craze for making toys for Christmas is approaching. Every year I get 
the urge to saw wood into bits and paint them in bright colours. The boys take it for granted that 
I shall make ‘mannequins’ for them.”


Figures, 1920-1940s


These “boys” were then 15, 12 and 11 years old, respectively. Speaking for my brother Laurence 
and myself, I may say that we still did “take it for granted” that there would be new citizens for 
the growing city; but in view of his continuing production year after year one may presume that 
there was a direct reward for the artist in the gratification of his “annual urge.” In 1931 he still 
wrote of the “usual toy-making season,” but soon afterward, his saw and chisel began a long 
rest, not to be broken until he had entered his old age.


Lyonel Feininger, City at the Edge of the World,
published by Frederick A Praeger, New York, 1965



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