Intending to continue his early education in music, Lyonel Feininger went to Germany in 1887, and instead decided to study art in Berlin and Paris. He first gained popularity as an illustrator for German satirical magazines in the 1890's, and then as a cartoonist with his comic strips, "The Kin-der-Kids" and "Wee Willie Winkie's World" (1906-7) for the "Chicago Sunday Tribune."
In 1908, Feininger turned his attention to painting, and was influenced by German Expressionist groups such as Die Brücke and Blaue Reiter. In 1919, Walter Gropius appointed Feininger as master in charge of the printing workshop at the Bauhaus. Until the closing of the Bauhaus by the Nazis in 1933, Feininger continued to teach there, and his prints were often included in Bauhaus publications, a famous example of which is his woodcut "Cathedral of Socialism" (1909).
In 1937, Feininger relocated to Oakland, California to teach at Mills College, and then returned to his native New York. His work was well received in America; in 1938, he designed murals for the World's Fair, and in the following years he won prizes from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Worcester Art Museum. He was elected president of the Federation of American Painters and Sculptors, and granted membership in the National Institute of Arts and Letters.