Andreas Feininger photograph collection
Language of Materials
The collection consists of Andreas Feininger's depictions of New York City from 1939 through 1954, and the 1970s through early 1980s. 1940s views depict Times Square, Fifth Avenue, elevated railroads, the Brooklyn Bridge, the waterfront and river traffic, shops and shop owners in a variety of neighborhoods, and a variety of street, park, and skyline views. 1970s and 1980s views depict graffiti, signs, murals, posters, billboards, reflections, water tanks, fire escapes, and especially the Times Square area with its characteristic erotic film venues and advertisements.
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.
The collection is organized in three series:
Series I: New York in the Forties
Series II: Historical Photographs for The Face of New York
Series III: New York in the 1970s and 1980s
Within each series, photographs are arranged alphabetically by subject or geographic location.
Scope and Contents
The Andreas Feininger Photograph Collection consists of ca. 775 gelatin silver photographs, and primarily contains photographs depicting New York City throughout the 1940s, 1970s, and 1980s. Feininger's photographs from the late 1950s and 1960s are not available in this repository. Also included is a series of photographs of historical prints, maps, and copies of earlier New York photographers' depictions of the city. The collection is divided into three series: New York in the Forties; Historical Photographs for The Face of New York; and New York in the 1970s and 1980s.
Copyright Note: Researchers should be aware that Andreas Feininger worked as a photographer for Life magazine between 1941 and 1962; AOL Time Warner, Inc. owns the copyright to those photographs. Many of the photographs in Series I were originally taken by Feininger for Life magazine; a note on the verso of the title of page of New York in the Forties indicates that at the time of publication, photographs on the following page numbers were used with permission of Life and copyrighted by Time, Inc. (now AOL Time Warner, Inc.): 24, 25, 26, 27, 30, 34, 54, 56-57, 66, 67, 68-69, 78, 79, 80, 81, 98, 142-143, 161. Both the photographs and the folder listing for this series have been annotated with page numbers; permission to reproduce these photographs must be sought from the copyright owner. Some photographs for Series II were taken for Life as well. Researchers should investigate copyright of these images.
Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit www.nyhistory.org/library/visit.
Taking images of documents from the library collections for reference purposes by using hand-held cameras and in accordance with the library's photography guidelines is encouraged. As an alternative, patrons may request up to 20 images per day from staff.
Application to use images from this collection for publication should be made in writing to: Department of Rights and Reproductions, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5194, email@example.com. Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282.
Copyrights and other proprietary rights may subsist in individuals and entities other than the New-York Historical Society, in which case the patron is responsible for securing permission from those parties. For fuller information about rights and reproductions from N-YHS visit: https://www.nyhistory.org/about/rights-reproductions
This collection should be cited as: Andreas Feininger Photograph Collection, PR 207, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, The New-York Historical Society.
Location of Materials
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gifts of Andreas Feininger in 1976, 1979, and 1990.