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LEGER

(Fernand Leger, 1881-1955)

Leger, Fernand: French painter. He was originally trained as an architect's draughtsman and photographic retoucher. Having failed the entrance exam to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1903, he studied at the Ecole des Arts Decoratifs and the Academie Julian. In 1909 he ranked as one of the three major Cubists and became a member of the Puteaux group in 1911. He was the first of the Cubists to experiment with non-figurative abstraction, contrasting curvilinear forms against a rectilinear grid.

He renounced abstraction during the First World War, when he claims to have discovered the beauty of common objects, which he described as 'everyday poetic images'. He began painting in a clean and precise style, in which objects are defined in their simplest terms in bold colours, taking cityscape and machine parts as his subject matter. In 1924 he made a 'film without scenario', Ballet Mecanique, in which he contrasted machines and inanimate objects with humans and their body parts.

During the Second World War, Leger lived in the USA where he taught at Yale, returning to Paris in 1945, when he opened an academy. His large paintings celebrating the people, featuring acrobats, cyclists and builders, thickly contoured and painted in clear, flat colours, reflected his political interest in the working class, and his attempt to create accessible art. From 1946 to 1949 he worked on a mosaic for the facade of the church at Assy, produced windows and tapestries for the church at Ardincourt in 1951, as well as windows for the University of Caracas in 1954. In 1950 he founded a ceramics studio at Biot, which, in 1957, became the Leger Museum. In 1967 it became a national museum. Leger was one of the giants of French painting this century, whose influence has been almost as great as his reputation.

- From The Bulfinch Guide to Art History

 Leger_WOMAN_BL

Leger, Fernand Woman in Blue 1912 Oil on canvas 193 x 130 cm (76 x 51 1/4 in.) Kunstmuseum, Basel

 Leger_TYPOGRAP

Leger, Fernand The Typographer 1919 Oil on canvas 130 x 97 cm (51 1/4 x 38 1/4 in.) Philadelphia Museum of Art

 Leger_SOLDIER

Leger, Fernand Soldier with a Pipe 1916 Oil on canvas 130 x 97 cm Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf

 Leger_SMOKERS

Leger, Fernand Smokers 1911-2 Oil on canvas 129.5 x 96.3 cm (51 x 37 7/8 in.) S.R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

 Leger_SEATDWMN

Leger, Fernand Seated Woman 1913 Oil on canvas 100 x 81 cm (39 1/2 x 32 in.) Private collection, Switzerland

 Leger_NUDEFRST

Leger, Fernand Nudes in the Forest 1909-1910 Oil on canvas 47 1/4 x 67 in. Kroller-Muller Museum, Otterlo

 Leger_CONTRAST

Leger, Fernand Contrasted Forms 1914 Oil on canvas 80.7 x 65.2 cm Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf

 Leger_CITY

Leger, Fernand The City 1919 Oil on canvas 90 3/4 x 117 1/4 in. (230.5 x 297.7 cm) Philadelphia Museum of Art

 Leger_BEER_MUG

LEGER, Fernand Still Life with a Beer Mug 1921 Oil on canvas 36 x 23 1/2 in. (92.1 x 60 cm.)

 Leger_3WOMEN

Leger, Fernand Three Women 1921 Oil on canvas 6' 1/4" x 8' 3" The Museum of Modern Art, New York