Bits and Pieces

Fernand Leger

By Serge Fauchereau

Translated by David Macey

Published by Rizzoli International Publications

Copyright: © 1994

Fernand Leger in 1916

Serge Fauchereau, born on Halloween in 1939 in France, is an art curator; art critic; professor of literature, art history, and writing; and author of artist biographies and art styles. Fauchereau has spent his adult life educating the public on, and extolling, 20th century avant-garde painting and sculpture, specifically the abstract and cubist styles.

Cubism – The Woman in Blue – Legar 1912

Abstract art attempts to free visual representations of reality from the concrete, expressing form and color spiritually, emotionally, metaphysically without the chains of perspective, fact, or conclusions. Cubism, a mathematical sub-set within the abstract world, takes the whole of reality apart piece by piece, reexamines and reimages the pieces, giving them their own perspective, color, and frame; and then collects the many pieces into something greater than the one. Sometimes this works.

Paul Cézanne, 19th century French post-impressionist painter, is considered the father of Cubism but not actually a Cubist himself. Cezanne stretched the accepted norms of perspective, giving separate objects within his paintings their own reality, their own commentary. Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, along, to a lesser extent, with Fernand Leger, took their cues from Cezanne, developing a style that became known as Early Cubism in the first 15 years of 20th century.

Tubism – Three Women – Legar 1921
Contrast of Forms – Legar 1913

Fernand Leger, born in Normandy, France in 1881, was an extrovert who successfully kept his private life hidden from the public, expressing himself exclusively through his paintings and films. His early works, before 1908, were strongly influenced by the French impressionistic painters. Dissatisfied with his impressionistic efforts he destroyed all his paintings from this period.

Moving on from impressionism, he circulated with the Parisian modern art crowd, where he began to experiment with the Cubist style, finishing his initial works, La Couseuse and Compotier sur la Table in 1909. After WWI, in which he served on the Verdun front and was wounded, he developed his own style, a modified form of Cubism which he called Tubism, more a foray into pop art than a formal artistic movement. Beginning in the early 1920s he collaborates and directs art films beginning with La Roue followed by Skating Rink and Le Ballet Mecanique.

Till the end of his life in 1955 he continued to paint, lecture, exhibit and travel, cementing his reputation as pioneer in the world of modern art. His reputation continues to grow with his Cubist Contrast of Forms selling at a Christie auction in 2017 for $70,062,500.

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