LEGER


Fernand Leger is one of the great 20th century modern artists. Leger was fascinated by industrial technology and the dynamic of machinery. His work the everyday subjects of mass culture, whether early abstractions of and disks or ambitious late canvases of workers up on the high iron of skyscrapers. He sought to meld classical design elements with that of machinery. Born in the countryside of northwestern France to a family of cattle breeders in 1881, Leger was steered into architecture by his parents. But soon he was in Paris at the prestigious Academy Julian. In 1908 he moved into the famous artist's building, La Ruche (The Beehive) and made friendships with such artists as Brancusi, Archipenko, Lipschitz, Chagall, Robert Delaunay. Very quickly he had transformed the Cubism of Braque and Picasso into something uniquely his own that was based firmly in 20th-century life. Unlike the other Cubists, he was not interested in traditional subjects like the still life and the portrait but rather in painting the city and all its inner workings, whether bad or good. In the 1920s, with his friends Ozenfant and Le Corbusier, he formed a new Post-Cubist movement called Purism. It was an attempt to create a new decorative art of starkly defined color patterns and strong basic shapes. The Museum of Modern Art in New York City recently held a major retrospective of Legerís work. He died in France in 1955.

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