Lyonel Feininger’s Toys

From the little I’d seen of Feininger’s work, I knew I wasn’t crazy about his stuff. His paintings seemed to me to be too much on the ‘safe side’ of cubism, that his way of blocking shapes into his work and his soft color palette wasn’t quite convincing enough. When I stumbled onto Feininger’s collection of toy characters and houses at the Whitney Museum, I was delighted to encounter Feininger the wood sculptor.

Made as gifts for his family and friends, Feininger crafted the toys are with the greatest care, as evident seen through the pipe hanging out of one toy’s mouth, to the hat adorning another. The creative world he invented with these deceptively simple blocks are an absolute pleasure to look at, and captures the child-like joy and perspective that artists such as Picasso strove to recreate. As you can see in my sketches, he made an array of characters from his wooden carvings, distinguished by their sitting or standing poses, elaborate dress, and props. And from my notes – even the rooster has a hat!

More info on Lyonel Feininger available at the MOMA website.


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