Fernand Leger was a well-known French painter, sculptor, and filmmaker whose artwork originated in the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s. Born in Argentan, France in 1881, Fernand Leger built his artist reputation, in which his style varied from decade to decade, changing between working with abstract art and the use of figuration in which he showed several different influences.
Fernand Leger always acquired an interest in art and therefore used the experiences he lived through in his life as ideas in which he would portray in his artwork. In his early years, Leger was denied entrance to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts (school of Arts), but attended classes there beginning in 1903. Also, he studied at the Academie Julian, a school that used artworks from artists in which were primarily influenced by Impressionism.
While attending the referenced school of Arts, Fernand Leger experienced a view of Paul Cezanne retrospective at the Salon d’Automne in 1907 and through that had contact with the early Cubism artworks of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, and therefore had an extremely significant impact on the development of his own personal style that people would eventually witness themselves. By witnessing such significant artwork, Leger began to stop using as much color as possible and began using black and whites in his artwork, making his artwork become abstract.
His paintings eventually became well-known landing him his first solo at the Galerie Kahnweilwer in Paris, France. Although Fernand Leger spent most of his artistic time creating a variety of different paintings and sculptors, he also worked in a variety of different medias which included paint, ceramic, film, theater, etc. Although his style fluctuated, his work was always graphic with the use of primary colors, pattern, and bold form. In continuation, there were several key ideas that Leger embraced and portrayed through his artwork.
Due to the fact that he found interest in combining objects into geometric shapes, he found the use of depicting and embracing the Cubist notion into a three-dimensional form. Fernand Leger, through his artwork, would tend to focus on cylindrical forms of shapes and use robot-like human figures to express coincidence amongst humans and machines and to show his unique brand of Cubism. Moving onto 1914, Leger joined the military and was enlisted from the years 1914 to 1917.
This yet would become another experience known as his “mechanical” period where he would use his experiences in the military, what he saw, and how he felt to form pieces of art. Beginning in 1917, his “mechanical” period took shape in his art, and figures and objects were formed by tubular, machinelike forms. As time moved forward, he began to work on sets and designed costumes for films such as Rolf de Mare’s Ballets Suedois written by Blaise Cendrars.
Going forward to 1924, he gained a vast amount of experience and thus completed his first film Ballet mecanique, which was neither abstract nor narrative but a series of images that were not related, for example, images of a woman’s teeth and lips, machines, ordinary objects, and human activities that were routine. In 1931 Leger visited the United States for the first time, thus marking a change in his future and artwork. In 1935 the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Art Institute of Chicago presented an exhibition of his work showing how his popularity began to transpire.
Leger lived in the United States from 1940 to 1945, but after the war, returned to France. Moving forward before his untimely death, Leger’s wide-ranging projects included monumental figure paintings, murals, stainedglass windows, mosaics, and set and costume designs. In 1955 he won the Grand Prize at the Sao Paulo Bienal. In continuation, Leger died on August 17 of that year at his home in Gif-sur Yvette, France, but his accomplishments and achievements still continue to this day.
Fernand Leger acquired a variety of successful paintings through his time as an artist. Many of those paintings are proudly displayed at museums around the world and show the absolute significance of the artist and his true self. There are several well-known paintings from this artist, but one significant painting is Leger’s “Contraste de Formes” (Contrast of Forms), that was painted in 1914. This abstract piece of artwork displays a variety use of lines, colors, and shapes to portray an intense display.
The painting measuring approximately 65. 2 x 80. cm was created by Leger in France during the years in which he outlined his artistic philosophy. At the time of this creation he often argued for the independence of painting from its traditional role of representation. Leger insisted that instead, it should acquire the greatest possible controversy and portray a large amount of intensity by contrasting all of the shapes and colors together, showing his liking of geometric shapes. By contrasting the shapes and colors together, Leger created an effect making the painting equal to what was seen as modern life.
Similarly, another well-known painting of Fernand Leger is “La Noce” (Trouville), that he began to paint in 1910 and successfully finished in 1911. This intense piece of artwork shows a variety of shapes creating an image supported with hints of blues, greens, oranges and yellows to bring it all together. This Cubism styled painting, also known as “The Wedding” depicts two married people standing in the center of the portrait where the bride whose eyes are closed is wearing a black veil and demonstrates the length of her white wedding dress.
Her husband, a man painted green, placing his hand on the shoulder of the bride is depicted as showing support towards her. The color green, used to portray the husband, is also reflected across various locations in the painting such as the table across the painted landscape. The background of this painting shows the use of geometric shapes which depicts the cubist style of the painting. In continuance, one last significant piece of artwork that gained popularity for Fernand Leger was the painting of “Femme Tenant un Vase” (Woman holding a Vase).
This painting dating back to 1927 was created on a canvas by oil and is approximately 146. 3 x 97. 5 cm in size. This piece of artwork defined and expressed the talent of Fernand Leger by using streamlined forms used in mechanical imagery which dates from World War I, the time that he served in the French Army. Along with the feelings he expressed through solidarity, gleaming surfaces and his liking for military hardware, Fernand Leger adopted this time and reflected his hopes of creating a popular art form that would describe and inspire modern life.
When it comes to the full description of the painting, the painting portrays a woman carrying a red vase which is a vital aspect to the meaning of the painting. Continuing, the woman’s face is empty, her body is stiff and divided into several parts, which also symbolize his use of several different geometric shapes. The paint colors that Leger used consists of what seems to be blue, red, white, and black against a light grey background.
Although creating paintings was one of Fernand Leger’s true talents, as stated before, paintings were not the only piece of art he contributed to and accomplished something with. Leger also experimented with other media such as creating, directing, and producing “The Mechanical Ballet” in 1926 which was a nonnarrative film with photography by well-known photographers and other artists. Leger also designed sets for ballets and motion pictures, and through these designs, he created mosaics with stained-glass windows for other projects he was offered.
Soon after working with the referenced project, Leger became truly interested between the relationship of color, and architecture and how it all ties into culture. Moving forward to the 1950’s. Leger’s work focused mainly on the theme of the common man and continued to expand more into tapestry, pottery, mosaics, and stained glass windows as referenced before. In conclusion, there is a lot of significant details that describe an incredible artist such as Fernand Leger.
From his early life and interest in art, to the experiences that he used to create magnificent artwork, anyone can truly comprehend how important he was in the artistic community. Leger, as stated before, built his artist reputation, in which his style varied from decade to decade, changing between working with abstraction and figuration in which he portrayed several different influences. Therefore, all of his influences in art show how incredible of an artist he was.