November 19, 2013

LEGER: MODERN ART AND THE METROPOLIS AT PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART




LEGER : MODERN ART AND THE METROPOLIS  
PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART
October 14, 2013 – January 5, 2014
Curated by Anna Vallye




LEGER : MODERN ART AND THE METROPOLIS AT
PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART
October 14, 2013 – January 5, 2014
Curated by Anna Vallye
This interdisciplinary exhibition will shed new light on the vitally experimental decade of the 1920s in Paris when the great French modernist Fernand Léger (1881-1955) played a leading role in redefining the practice of painting by bringing it into active engagement with the urban environment and modern mass media. This will be the first exhibition to take as its inspiration and focus Léger’s monumental painting The City (1919), a cornerstone of the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s collection and a landmark in the history of modern art, placing it in dialogue with the urban art and culture of modernity.
The exhibition will present a core group of Léger’s exceptional paintings on the theme of the city, along with film projections, theater designs, architectural models, and print and advertising designs by the artist and his contemporaries. In a multi-media installation of more than 120 works, including loans from American and European public and private collections, this exhibition will demonstrate the varied strategies through which artists and designers of the European avant-garde, with Léger in the lead, sought to participate in the complexity and excitement of the metropolis. The exhibition will also feature work by Cassandre, Robert and Sonia Delaunay, Theo van Doesburg, Alexandra Exter, Abel Gance, Le Corbusier, Piet Mondrian, Gerald Murphy, Francis Picabia, Man Ray, and many others.
CURATOR
Anna Vallye, Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow in Modern and Contemporary Art





THE PARROTS, THE ACROBATS 1933
Oil on Canvas
Dimensions: 130 × 162 cm
Photo: Robert Bayer, Basel /
© Fernand Léger / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris




LES DISQUES 1918
Oil on Canvas
Dimensions: 268 × 208 × 3.9 cm
Musée D'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
© ArtistsRightsSociety (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris






HEAD OF A GIRL 1953
Glazed Ceramic
Dimensions: 45.7 × 30.5 cm
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris




THREE WOMEN AND A STILL LIFE 1921
Oil on Canvas
Dimensions: 60 × 92 cm
Photo: Robert Bayer, Basel / © Fernand Léger /
Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris




F. LEGER 1953
Photo Lithograph
Dimensions: 66.0 x 48.2 cm
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris




THE CITY 1919
Oil on Canvas,
Dimensions: 231.1 x 298.4 cm
 PhiladelphiaMuseum of Art, A. E. Gallatin Collection, 1952
© ArtistsRightsSociety (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris




THE CITY 1919 ( DETAIL ) & VIEW FROM PHILADELPHIA




THE CITY 1919 ( DETAIL )








THE CITY 1919 ( DETAIL )




COMPOSITION A LA MAIN ET AUX CHAPEAUX 1927
Oil on Canvas
Dimensions: 248.3 x 185.4 cm
 Centre Pompidou, Paris Musée National D'Art Moderne/
Centre de Création Industrielle






COMPOSITION 1933
Ink on Paper
Dimensions: 32.4 x 24.8 cm
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris




CARD PLAYERS 1917




THE GAME OF CARDS 1916
Ink on Paper
Dimensions: 16.4 x 22.3 cm
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris




THREE WOMEN 1921 - 1922
Oil on Canvas
Dimensions: 183.5 x 251.5 cm
Credit Line: Mrs. Simon Guggenheim Fund
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris










THE PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART 








THE PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART 












LES ILLUMINATIONS, LAUSANNE: GROSCLAUDE – 1949




STILL LIFE WITH PLASTER MASK 1927
Oil on Canvas
Dimensions: 88.5 × 130 cm
Photo: Robert Bayer, Basel / © Fernand Léger /
Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris




BALLET MECANIQUE 1924
35mm Film ( Black and White, Silent )
Duration: 12 min.
Credit Line: Film in the Permanent Collection of
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris




THE BALUSTER 1925
Oil on Canvas
Dimensions: 129.5 x 97.2 cm
Credit Line: Mrs. Simon Guggenheim Fund
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris




CIRCUS FAMILY 1941
Ink on Paper
Dimensions: 103.5 x 89.1 cm
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris




ANIMATED LANDSCAPE 1924






CONTRAST OF FORMS 1913 – 1914




COSTUME DESIGN FOR THE BALLET  - THE CREATION OF THE WORLD 1922
Pencil on Paper
Dimensions: 27.3 x 21.0 cm
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris




THE MIRROR 1925
Oil on Canvas
Dimensions: 129.6 x 99.6 cm
Credit Line: Nina and Gordon Bunshaft Bequest
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris




BALLET MECANIQUE 1924






THE END OF THE WORLD 1919
Author: Blaise Cendrars (Frédéric Sauser) 1919
Illustrated Book With Twenty – Two Pochoirs
Dimensions: Page, 31 x 25 cm -  Prints, various dimensions
Credit Line: The Louis E. Stern Collection
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris




TWO WOMEN 1921
Watercolor on Paper
Dimensions: 31.8 x 25.4 cm
Credit Line: Nina and Gordon Bunshaft Bequest
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris




STUDY FOR CINEMATIC MURAL, STUDY IV - 1938 - 1939
Gouache and Pencil on Board
Dimensions: 50.7 x 38.0 cm
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris






THE CREATION OF THE WORLD 1922
Mise-en-scène for the ballet La Création du Monde
Pencil on Paper
Dimensions: 21 x 27 cm
Credit Line: Gift of John Pratt
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris




THE BLACK ROOT 1948
Lithograph
Dimensions: Composition, 37.2 x 46.5 cm; Sheet, 50.1 x 66 cm
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris




THE DIVERS 1941-42
Oil on Canvas
Dimensions: 228.6 x 172.8 cm
Credit Line: Mrs. Simon Guggenheim Fund
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris






WOMAN AT THE MIRROR FROM DAS KUNSTBLATT, IV ANNUAL 1920
Lithograph
Dimensions: Composition: 24 x 19.6 cm; Sheet: 27.9 x 21 cm
Credit Line: Transferred from the Museum Library
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris








FERNAND LEGER WORKING METHODS & TECNIQUE
Throughout his career Léger’s working practice was to produce groups of works (drawings, gouaches and even oil paintings) relating to specific themes, a method that encouraged the production of series from 1910. Although drawing represented his only artistic activity during World War I, it later became primarily important to him as a preliminary stage in his work and his teaching method. Careful preparatory drawings exist for works in virtually every medium, and selected versions were often then gridded for enlarging on canvas in a definitive version in oil. This was particularly true for his work after World War II, although some of his preparatory studies of 1923–4 are also remarkably finished. The preparatory drawings themselves would often evolve from loose sketches, but Léger was always careful to distinguish between the two. Some of his drawings from the 1940s, for example, show a freedom and boldness that suggest a renewed interest in draughtsmanship for its own sake about this time. The canvases emerged naturally from this process, with some themes being represented by several paintings as equally valid variations, while in other instances various treatments in oil, sometimes differing only in minute details, were seen only as part of the process of working towards a definitive image, as in the series leading to Le Grand Déjeuner. The essentially mechanical approach adopted by Léger towards his paintings is further demonstrated by his tendency to reuse certain standard elements, such as a pair of hands or lips, not just in treatments of related subjects but also in paintings and drawings on different themes.
Léger often used his students to paint his large-scale works. Academy pupils of the 1920s such as the Swedish artist Otto Carlsund recalled executing versions of Léger’s paintings and several of his set designs. In the 1930s Léger used his students to help conceive and execute designs for Naissance d’une cité (1937) and to paint his mural for the Palais de la Découverte; among the students contributing to the latter was the Danish artist Asger Jorn. In the early 1950s Léger’s students painted panels for the book festival of the 1953 Comité National d’Ecrivains. One of his former students, Bruce Gregory (b 1917), executed Léger’s 1952 gouaches on a large scale as paintings for the east and west walls of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York.
Léger’s experiments with film, particularly the Ballet mécanique, reflect his enthusiasm with energetic, mechanized modernity. Although innovative, his films, like his response to the movements of the body in his designs for the ballet, were more concerned with formal aspects than with technical experiments. In his experiments with other media, his interest was again seldom purely technical. Indeed, in most cases his choice of a particular medium (mosaic, ceramics, stained glass) was based on its suitability for the monumental public display of his pre-conceived designs.
Judi FreemanFrom Grove Art Online
© 2009 Oxford University Press
http://www.moma.org/collection/browse_results.php?criteria=O%3AAD%3AE%3A6624&page_number=1&template_id=6&sort_order=1&section_id=T050083#skipToContent








 B
FERNAND LEGER
Fernand Léger (born 1881, died 1955) lived through a period of extraordinary changes that transformed everyday life. He experienced the transition from candle and gaslight to electricity, from horse-drawn carts to the automobile and airplane, and from a mostly rural society to one that was increasingly urban. His generation also saw the invention of new communications media such as film, telegraph, and radio. Léger recognized how the accelerated pace of life affected art:
“ If pictorial expression has changed, it is because modern life has necessitated it. . . . The view through the door of the railroad car or the automobile windshield, in combination with the speed, has altered the habitual look of things. A modern man registers a hundred times more sensory impressions than an eighteenth-century artist. . . . The compression of the modern picture, its variety, its breaking up of forms, are the result of all this. ”Fernand Léger, 1914
Léger was born in Argentan (ar-zhen-tahn), a small town in northwestern France, where his father bred cattle. He enjoyed drawing and studied architecture in school. As a young man, Léger worked as an apprentice in a local architect’s office and later served as an architectural draftsman in Paris. We can see his continuing interest in buildings and structures in The City.
He began to focus seriously on painting in 1903 and took classes at art schools in Paris. Starting in 1909, Léger lived at La Ruche (French for “the beehive”), an art-studio complex that was a haven for artists from all over Europe. He met other avant-garde artists who had workspaces in this lively community, such as Robert Delaunay and Jacques Lipchitz. Paris was the center of experimentation for modern artists, including Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, who developed a style known as Cubism. Léger reinvented Cubism to meet his own artistic goals.
Léger served in World War I from 1914 to 1918 and said that his experiences during the war sparked his fascination with machines and mechanical forms. Describing the evolution of his art, Léger stated:
“ Each artist possesses an offensive weapon that allows him to intimidate tradition. In the search for vividness and intensity I have made use of the machine as others have of the nude body or the still life. ”Fernand Léger, 1925
He painted The City in 1919, soon after he returned to Paris from his wartime service. Plunging eagerly into city life, he experimented in a wide range of media during the 1920s. Léger was especially interested in the performing arts, and designed sets and costumes for two ballets: Skating Rink (1921–22) and Creation of the World (1923).
In 1923–24 Léger collaborated with several artists to produce and direct an experimental film, Ballet mécanique (may-cah-neek), or Mechanical Ballet. With its quickly changing images, this film had no story line or script. The American composer George Antheil created a truly radical musical accompaniment for Ballet mécanique, which was scored not for human performers but for sixteen player pianos, three airplane propellers, a siren, and seven electric bells. Although Léger loved Antheil’s jangling mechanical music, it could not be synchronized with the film footage during his lifetime.
Léger was excited by innovations in graphic design. He created illustrations with text for La fin du monde (The End of the World), a book written in 1919 by his friend, the Swiss writer Blaise Cendrars (sahn-DRAR). This story is a fantasy about the end of the world as filmed by a stone sculpture of an angel atop Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. Throughout the 1920s Léger continued painting and also designed advertising posters, theater programs, and other publications.
While his artistic reputation was growing in France, Léger visited the United States several times in the 1930s, where he was captivated by the energy of New York City. Like many other European artists, he fled Europe during World War II, and lived in New York from 1940 to 1945. He returned to France after the war, where he resided for the rest of his life. After his death, a national museum dedicated to Léger was established in Biot (bee-ot), a town in southeastern France near the Mediterranean coast.