An American artist of German descent, Lyonel Feininger studied music in Germany, then abandoned a promising career as a violinist to become an artist. Although he turned his concentration toward the visual arts, Feininger consistently created his work with a musician’s sensitivity. Paintings, he once wrote, “have to sing, must enrapture, and must not stop at portraying an episode.”
Although greatly influenced by the geometric aspects of Cubism, Feininger developed his own colorful and romantic version of this style. Conceptually, he wanted to achieve a spiritual synthesis of the natural and man-made world in his paintings by depicting such subjects as architecture and human forms as prismatically colored, interpenetrating planes. In Barfüsserkirche II (Church of the Minorites II), Feininger created a pictorial communion of a church (kirche) and the German Franciscan monks (Barfüsser) who reside there by depicting a harmonious composition of repeated transparent colors, shapes, and lines.