The scene is Paris: not the fashionable boulevards and cabarets of the “City of Light” but a working-class neighborhood. Evening has fallen and the people-solitary travelers cloaked against the chill-move slowly along the gaslit street. The mood is subdued, yet the artist/spectator enlivens the composition by gently distorting the space, bending and breaking the parts into planes of color.
What a strange subject for an artist to be painting in wartime Germany! However, Lyonel Feininger, an American living in Berlin, loved France and French culture. Before the war he made several extended visits to Paris, where he sketched the street life and absorbed the lessons of cubism, so evident in this painting. Though he patriotically supported the country of his ancestors, his feelings about the war were in turmoil, and that conflict found expression in this melancholy reminiscence of a more tranquil time.
tags: shape, line, design, place, change, perspective, urban, narrative