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The French painter Fernand Leger {lay-zhay', fer-nahn'}, b. Argentan, Feb. 4, 1881, d. Aug. 17, 1955, was a major figure in the development of cubism and a prime expositor of modern urban and technological culture.

Nudes On a Red Background

"Nudes On a Red Background"
by Fernand Leger
Kunstmuseum, Basel


After moving (1900) to Paris he worked as an architectural draftsman and a photographic retoucher and also studied informally at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Académie Julien. By 1911, Leger had become a key member of the evolving cubist movement. His personal style of cubism is characterized by tubular, fractured forms and bright colors highlighted by juxtaposition with cool whites -- a decorative scheme that conveys a sense of form in relief. Major works of this cubist period include La Noce (1911-12; Musee National d'Art Moderne, Paris), Woman in Blue (1912; Oeffentliche Kunstsammlung, Basel), and Contrasts of Forms (1913; Philadelphia Museum of Art).

Following World War I, Leger concentrated more and more on urban and machine imagery, which led logically to his association (1919-c.1925) with the purism of Le Corbusier and Amedee Ozenfant. In paintings such as The Mechanic (1920; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa) and Three Women (1921; Museum of Modern Art, New York City), he favored sharply delineated, flat shapes, unmodeled color areas, and combinations of human and machine forms. After 1930, Leger's style favored precisely delineated and monumental forms modeled in planes and set in shallow space, and he concentrated on depicting scenes of proletarian life, such as his Great Parade (1954; Guggenheim Museum, New York City).

Magdalena Dabrowski, Curatorial Assistant, Museum of Modern Art, New York City.
Source: The Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Release #9.01, ©1997.
Bibliography: R. T. Buck, et al., Fernand Leger (1982); Peter De Franci, Fernand Leger (1983); Gaston Diehl, Fernand Leger (1985); Gladys C. Fabre and Barbara Rose, Leger and the Modern Spirit (1983); Dorothy Kosinski, ed., Fernand Leger, 1911-1924: The Rhythm of Modern Life (1994); Gilles Meret, F. Leger (1993); Werner Schmalenbach, Leger (1986).
Images: "Nudes On a Red Background" (Kunstmuseum, Basel/Photo Explorer/Copyright 1995 Artists Rights Society [ARS], New York/SPADEM, Paris)
Copyrights Notice and Disclaimer: Images of artists' works displayed throughout this site have been obtained from numerous sources, including digital libraries at educational institutions, educational software, and Mark Harden's Artchive. Credit is attributed when known. Some works are considered to be in the public domain, based on current U.S. and international copyright acts. For more information on copyright laws, please refer to the Artists Rights Society and Benedict O'Mahoney's The Copyright Web Site. [See also: Copyrights.]

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Leger Quotations:

"(QUOTE #1)" (1)

"(QUOTE #2)" (2)

Sources of Quotations: (1) XXXXX. (2) XXXXX.
[The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations is licensed from Columbia University Press. Copyright © 1993 by Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.]

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