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The bodies and bicycles of five stylized cyclists fill this nearly square painting so parts of some of their bodies and bicycles are cut by the edges of the canvas. Shown against a background of mottled shell pink and light gray, the riders are closely packed, their wheels and bodies overlapping, and they seem close to us as they race to our right in profile. All lean low over their handlebars. The faces of the three riders at the front of the pack have lemon-yellow skin. The person at the top of the composition, seeming the farthest away from us, has ivory-colored skin, and the person at the back, to our left, has brown skin. They all wear different colored clothing. The racer at the front wears all black, and the one closest to us celery green with fuchsia around the hips. The cyclists farthest from us wear rust orange or canary yellow. The racer with brown skin wears frosty blue. The frames of the bicycles are dark forest green or black, and the colors of the wheels are either yellow or turquoise. The people’s faces and bodies are abstracted into flat, hard-edges shapes. The angles formed by their torsos, arms, and legs are echoed by the angles of their bicycles’ dark metal frames.

Lyonel Feininger, The Bicycle Race, 1912, oil on canvas, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, 1985.64.17

Gallery Talks

The Art of Looking

The Art of Looking

Lyonel Feininger, The Bicycle Race

  • Friday, July 16, 2021
  • 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
  • Virtual Program

In honor of the Olympics and other summer sports, Lyonel Feininger's The Bicycle Race is the inspiration for this interactive conversation. Join us and share your observations, interpretations, questions, and ideas, and build on your own first impressions to broaden your understanding of this work of art. This session lasts one hour and is completely interactive. National Gallery educators will facilitate the conversation to create an environment for shared learning. These conversations will encourage you to engage deeply with art, with others, and with the world around you as you hone skills in visual literacy and perspective-taking.

This program is free and open to the public and is designed for anyone interested in talking about art. No art or art history background is required. Ages 18 and over.

Due to the interactive nature of this program, sessions are not recorded.

Live Captions

Live captions (CART) are available in some breakout rooms for this program. Please contact [email protected] to request access or for more information.