Friday, September 7, 2007

Cinema: Fernand Léger (1881-1955)

Date Of Birth: 4 February 1881, Argentan, Normandy, France
Date Of Death: 17 August 1955, Gif-sur-Yvette, Ile-de-France, France

French painter. He was originally trained as an architect's draughtsman and photographic retoucher. Having failed the entrance exam to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1903, he studied at the Ecole des Arts Decoratifs and the Academie Julian.
In 1909 he ranked as one of the three major Cubists and became a member of the Puteaux group in 1911. He was the first of the Cubists to experiment with non-figurative abstraction, contrasting curvilinear forms against a rectilinear grid. He renounced abstraction during the First World War, when he claims to have discovered the beauty of common objects, which he described as 'everyday poetic images'.

He began painting in a clean and precise style, in which objects are defined in their simplest terms in bold colours, taking cityscape and machine parts as his subject matter. In 1924 he made a 'film without scenario', Ballet Mécanique, in which he contrasted machines and inanimate objects with humans and their body parts. During the Second World War, Leger lived in the USA where he taught at Yale, returning to Paris in 1945, when he opened an academy. His large paintings celebrating the people, featuring acrobats, cyclists and builders, thickly contoured and painted in clear, flat colours, reflected his political interest in the working class, and his attempt to create accessible art.

From 1946 to 1949 he worked on a mosaic for the facade of the church at Assy, produced windows and tapestries for the church at Ardincourt in 1951, as well as windows for the University of Caracas in 1954. In 1950 he founded a ceramics studio at Biot, which, in 1957, became the Leger Museum. In 1967 it became a national museum. Leger was one of the giants of French painting this century, whose influence has been almost as great as his reputation.
(The Bulfinch Guide To Art History)

  • Ballet Mécanique (1924) - (Charlot Présente Le Ballet Mécanique)
Ballet Mécanique (1924)
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