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Nature morte (Fernand Léger, 1938)

Image by pedrosimoes7
CAM Collection, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, Portugal

Oil on Canvas
Inv. PE 127

From Wikipedia

Joseph Fernand Henri Léger (French: [leʒe] February four, 1881 – August 17, 1955) was a French painter, sculptor, and filmmaker. In his early performs he developed a individual kind of cubism which he progressively modified into a far more figurative, populist style. His boldly simplified treatment of modern subject matter has brought on him to be regarded as a forerunner of pop art.


Léger was born in Argentan, Orne, Reduce Normandy, exactly where his father raised cattle. Fernand Léger initially educated as an architect from 1897 to 1899, before moving in 1900 to Paris, where he supported himself as an architectural draftsman. Following military service in Versailles, Yvelines, in 1902–1903, he enrolled at the School of Decorative Arts following his application to the École des Beaux-Arts was rejected. He nevertheless attended the Beaux-Arts as a non-enrolled student, spending what he described as &quotthree empty and useless years&quot studying with Gérôme and other folks, whilst also studying at the Académie Julian.[1] He started to operate seriously as a painter only at the age of 25. At this point his perform showed the influence of impressionism, as seen in Le Jardin de ma mère (My Mother’s Garden) of 1905, a single of the couple of paintings from this period that he did not later destroy. A new emphasis on drawing and geometry appeared in Léger’s work soon after he saw the Cézanne retrospective at the Salon d’Automne in 1907.[2]


A painting of smokers
Les Fumeurs (The Smokers), 1911-12, oil on canvas, 129.two x 96.5 cm, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
A painting of a lady in blue
La Femme en Bleu (Woman in Blue), 1912, oil on canvas, 193 x 129.9 cm (76 x 51 1/8 inches), Kunstmuseum Basel. Exhibited at the 1912 Salon d’Automne, Paris
Painting of a nude
Nude Model in the Studio (Le modèle nu dans l’atelier), 1912-13, oil on burlap, 128.six x 95.9 cm, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
In 1909 he moved to Montparnasse and met such leaders of the avant-garde as Archipenko, Lipchitz, Chagall, Joseph Csaky and Robert Delaunay. His major painting of this period is Nudes in the Forest (1909–10), in which Léger displays a personal type of Cubism that his critics termed &quotTubism&quot for its emphasis on cylindrical types.[3]

In 1910 he exhibited at the Salon d’Automne in the same room (salle VIII) with Jean Metzinger and Henri Le Fauconnier. In 1911 the hanging committee of the Salon des Indépendants placed together the painters that would quickly be identified as ‘Cubists’. Metzinger, Gleizes, Le Fauconnier, Delaunay and Léger have been accountable for revealing Cubism to the basic public for the initial time as an organized group.

The following year he again exhibited at the Salon d’Automne and Indépendants with the Cubists, and joined with numerous artists, which includes Henri Le Fauconnier, Jean Metzinger, Albert Gleizes, Francis Picabia and the Duchamp brothers, Jacques Villon, Raymond Duchamp-Villon and Marcel Duchamp to form the Puteaux Group—also known as the Section d’Or (The Golden Section).

Léger’s paintings, from then till 1914, became increasingly abstract. Their tubular, conical, and cubed types are laconically rendered in rough patches of primary colors plus green, black and white, as observed in the series of paintings with the title Contrasting Forms. Léger produced no use of the collage technique pioneered by Braque and Picasso.[4]


Dans L’Usine, 1918, oil on canvas, 56 x 38 cm (22 x 15 in)

The City, 1919, oil on canvas, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, A. E. Gallatin Collection
Léger’s experiences in Globe War I had a significant impact on his perform. Mobilized in August 1914 for service in the French Army, he spent two years at the front in Argonne.[five] He produced many sketches of artillery pieces, airplanes, and fellow soldiers although in the trenches, and painted Soldier with a Pipe (1916) although on furlough. In September 1916 he virtually died soon after a mustard gas attack by the German troops at Verdun. For the duration of a period of convalescence in Villepinte he painted The Card Players (1917), a canvas whose robot-like, monstrous figures reflect the ambivalence of his expertise of war. As he explained:

…I was stunned by the sight of the breech of a 75 millimeter in the sunlight. It was the magic of light on the white metal. That’s all it took for me to forget the abstract art of 1912–1913. The crudeness, variety, humor, and downright perfection of specific guys around me, their precise sense of utilitarian reality and its application in the midst of the life-and-death drama we had been in … made me want to paint in slang with all its color and mobility.

This function marked the starting of his &quotmechanical period&quot, during which the figures and objects he painted have been characterized by sleekly rendered tubular and machine-like types. Beginning in 1918, he also produced the 1st paintings in the Disk series, in which disks suggestive of site visitors lights figure prominently.[7] In December 1919 he married Jeanne-Augustine Lohy, and in 1920 he met Le Corbusier, who would remain a lifelong buddy.


Still Life with a Beer Mug, 1921, oil on canvas, the Tate
The &quotmechanical&quot functions Léger painted in the 1920s, in their formal clarity as properly as in their subject matter—the mother and youngster, the female nude, figures in an ordered landscape—are standard of the postwar &quotreturn to order&quot in the arts, and link him to the tradition of French figurative painting represented by Poussin and Corot.[8] In his paysages animés (animated landscapes) of 1921, figures and animals exist harmoniously in landscapes created up of streamlined forms. The frontal compositions, firm contours, and smoothly blended colors of these paintings frequently recall the performs of Henri Rousseau, an artist Léger greatly admired and whom he had met in 1909.

They also share traits with the function of Le Corbusier and Amédée Ozenfant who with each other had founded Purism, a style intended as a rational, mathematically based corrective to the impulsiveness of cubism. Combining the classical with the modern day, Léger’s Nude on a Red Background (1927) depicts a monumental, expressionless lady, machinelike in form and colour. His still life compositions from this period are dominated by stable, interlocking rectangular formations in vertical and horizontal orientation. The Siphon of 1924, a nonetheless life based on an advertisement in the well-liked press for the aperitif Campari, represents the high-water mark of the Purist aesthetic in Léger’s operate.[9] Its balanced composition and fluted shapes suggestive of classical columns are brought with each other with a quasi-cinematic close-up of a hand holding a bottle.

As an enthusiast of the modern day, Léger was drastically attracted to cinema, and for a time he deemed giving up painting for filmmaking.[ten] In 1923–24 he developed the set for the laboratory scene in Marcel L’Herbier’s L’Inhumaine (The Inhuman A single). In 1924, in collaboration with Dudley Murphy, George Antheil, and Man Ray, Léger made and directed the iconic and Futurism-influenced film, Ballet Mécanique (Mechanical Ballet). Neither abstract nor narrative, it is a series of pictures of a woman’s lips and teeth, close-up shots of ordinary objects, and repeated images of human activities and machines in rhythmic movement.[11]

In collaboration with Amédée Ozenfant he established a cost-free school exactly where he taught from 1924, with Alexandra Exter and Marie Laurencin. He developed the 1st of his &quotmural paintings&quot, influenced by Le Corbusier’s theories, in 1925. Intended to be incorporated into polychrome architecture, they are among his most abstract paintings, featuring flat areas of color that seem to advance or recede.[12]


Starting in 1927, the character of Léger’s function steadily changed as organic and irregular forms assumed higher significance.[13] The figural style that emerged in the 1930s is completely displayed in the Two Sisters of 1935, and in several versions of Adam and Eve.[14] With characteristic humor, he portrayed Adam in a striped bathing suit, or sporting a tattoo.

In 1931, Léger produced his first pay a visit to to the United States, where he traveled to New York City and Chicago.[15] In 1935, the Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City presented an exhibition of his operate. In 1938, Léger was commissioned to decorate Nelson Rockefeller’s apartment.[16]

The War years

In the course of Globe War II Léger lived in the United States. He taught at Yale University, and discovered inspiration for a new series of paintings in the novel sight of industrial refuse in the landscape. The shock of juxtaposed all-natural types and mechanical elements, the &quottons of abandoned machines with flowers cropping up from inside, and birds perching on prime of them&quot exemplified what he referred to as the &quotlaw of contrast&quot.[17] His enthusiasm for such contrasts resulted in such functions as The Tree in the Ladder of 1943–44, and Romantic Landscape of 1946. A key work of 1944, 3 Musicians (Museum of Modern Art, New York), reprises a composition of 1930. A folk-like composition reminiscent of Rousseau, it exploits the law of contrasts in its realistic juxtaposition of the 3 males and their instruments.

Upon his return to France in 1945, he joined the Communist Party.[18] During this period his operate became less abstract, and he made numerous monumental figure compositions depicting scenes of well-liked life featuring acrobats, builders, divers, and country outings. Art historian Charlotta Kotik has written that Léger’s &quotdetermination to depict the common man, as well as to produce for him, was a outcome of socialist theories widespread amongst the avant-garde each just before and right after Globe War II. Nonetheless, Léger’s social conscience was not that of a fierce Marxist, but of a passionate humanist&quot.[19] His varied projects integrated book illustrations, murals, stained-glass windows, mosaics, polychrome ceramic sculptures, and set and costume styles.


Stained-glass window at the Central University of Venezuela, 1954
Right after the death of his wife in 1950, Léger married Nadia Khodossevitch in 1952. In his final years he lectured in Bern, developed mosaics and stained-glass windows for the Central University of Venezuela in Caracas, Venezuela, and painted Nation Outing, The Camper, and the series The Large Parade. In 1954 he started a project for a mosaic for the São Paulo Opera, which he would not reside to finish. Fernand Léger died at his property in 1955 and is buried in Gif-sur-Yvette, Essonne.


Léger wrote in 1945 that &quotthe object in modern day painting should grow to be the primary character and overthrow the topic. If, in turn, the human form becomes an object, it can significantly liberate possibilities for the modern artist.&quot He elaborated on this thought in his 1949 essay, &quotHow I Conceive the Human Figure&quot, where he wrote that &quotabstract art came as a complete revelation, and then we were capable to consider the human figure as a plastic worth, not as a sentimental value. That is why the human figure has remained willfully inexpressive all through the evolution of my perform&quot.[20] As the 1st painter to take as his idiom the imagery of the machine age, and to make the objects of customer society the subjects of his paintings, Léger has been called a progenitor of Pop art.[21]

He was active as a teacher for a lot of years. Amongst his pupils had been Nadir Afonso, Robert Colescott, Paul Georges, Charlotte Gilbertson, Hananiah Harari, Asger Jorn, Michael Loew, Beverly Pepper, Victor Reinganum, Marcel Mouly, George L. K. Morris, René Margotton, Erik Olson, Saloua Raouda Choucair and Charlotte Wankel.

In 1952, a pair of Léger murals was installed in the Common Assembly Hall of the United Nations headquarters in New York, New York.[22]

In 1960, the Musée Fernand Léger was opened in Biot, Alpes-Maritimes, France.

In Might 2008, his painting, Étude pour la femme en bleu (1912-13) sold for ,241,000 (hammer cost with buyer’s premium) United States dollars.[23]

In August 2008, one of Léger’s paintings owned by Wellesley College’s Davis Museum and Cultural Center, Mother and Kid, was reported missing. It is believed to have disappeared some time in between April 9, 2007 and November 19, 2007. A ,000 reward is getting supplied for details that leads to the safe return of the painting.[24]

Léger’s perform was featured in the exhibition &quotLéger: Modern Art and the Metropolis&quot from October 14, 2013, by way of January 5, 2014, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.[25]

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