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Fernand Leger (1881 – 1955)


French painter, sculptor, and filmmaker.
Fernand Leger
..a yellow square, a red and blue avenue, an Eiffel tower with a camouflaged silhouette.. ..that would all be lit up at night, instead of fireworks.. (a proposal to Trotsky of a 'polychrome Moscow' for the 1937 exhibition)
Leger quotes
This is the visual world, using the most advanced advertising techniques that are familiar to the crowds in their daily life.. ..What kind of representational art do you want to inflict on these men then, when they’re solicited everyday by the cinema, radio, huge photomontages and advertising hoardings? How can you compete with these enormous modern mechanisms, which give you art to the 1000th degree? (around 1950, on the modern world of billboards and neon light)
Leger
(The concept of abstract painting) is not a passing abstraction, good only for a few initiates’, (but) ‘the total expression of a new generation whose necessities it experiences and to all of whose aspirations it constitutes a response. (1920)




Leger Fernand quotes
It is curious to note that the most intellectual kind of painting, the one that tries to reduce reality to its essential elements, is ultimately but a visual delight. All it has kept of the world is its color. (This is apparent particularly in Léger.)
Leger Fernand
The love of simplicity, precision and clarity, is totally Western. Today’s rational plastic form does not come from the Mediterranean or the Orient; it comes from the North (of France, fh). The North, younger, quicker less subtle, has seen straight to the heart of the new problem of construction that is posed by modern life.
Fernand Leger quotes
The time of the often criticized art without real subject (l’art pour l’art) and the art without object (abstract art) seems to be over. We are experiencing a new return to the meaningful subject, which the common people can understand
Fernand Leger
This mechanical element, which one is sorry to see disappear from the screen, and which one is impatient to see again, is discreet; it appears only at intervals, and far off, like a spotlight that flashes on in a long, intermittent, harrowing drama of totally uncompromising realism. The plastic event is non-the less there and seems to me be laden with consequences both in itself and for the future. (on the filming of Abel Gance’s La Roue, 1922)
Leger Fernand quotes
Of the various plastic orientations developed over the past twenty-five years, abstract art is the most important, the most interesting… ..It is an extreme state which only a few creators and admirers are capable of achieving. The danger of this formula lies in the very elevation of its intention. Modelings, contrasts, objects have disappeared, leaving only very pure, very precise relations, and a few colors, a few lines; blank spaces, without depth. Add to this a respect for the vertical plane – thin, rigid, sharp. It is a true, incorruptible purism.
Leger
One day I had painted a bunch of keys on a canvas, my bunch of keys. I didn’t know what to put next to them. I needed something that would be the absolute opposite of a bunch of keys. So when I finished work I went out. I had only walked a few yard when what should I see in a shop windows? A postcard of the Mona Lisa! At once I knew that was what I needed; what could have made a greater contrast to the keys?. ..Then I also added a can of sardines. It was such a strong contrast. (on his painting ‘La Joconde aux Clés’)
Leger Fernand
They are not like the – patron’s hands or the – blessing hands of the curate – They resemble their tools, mountains, tree trunks.. ..The time is approaching when machines will – work FOR them – Then he will have hands like his boss – WHY NOT? – He’s on the way – HIS LIFE begins TODAY (text in his painting ‘Les mains’ –hommage a Maiakovski, 1951)
Fernand Leger
A work of art must be significant in its own time like any other intellectual manifestation.. ..because it's visual.. ..it is a reflection of external conditions not pyschological ones. Every painting must allow for this momentary and eternal value which will make it last beyond the period of its creation.




Fernand Leger quotes
It is a true, incorruptible purism.. ..It is a religion that can not be argued about. It has its saints, its disciples and its heretics. Modern life with its speed und tumult, dynamic and full of contrasts, beats furiously against this light, luminous, delicate structure, which emerges coldly from the chaos. Do not touch it, it is an accomplished fact. It had to be, it is there to stay. (1945)
Fernand Leger
It’s not a country – it’s a world. It’s impossible to see the limits.. It’s only in Russia that I had a similar impression, but it wasn’t the same thing. In America you are confronted with a power in movement with force in reserve without end. An unbelievable vitality - a perpetual movement.
Leger quotes
At the same time we would most like to run the film back and see how the sanctuaries close again and the lights go out and the great powers of nature are once again met with deserved reverence. One can fell an oak in twenty seconds; but in order to become what it now is, it grew for a century.. ..Progress is but a word without sense, and the cow, which keeps the world alive, will not move faster than three kilometres per hour in the future, either. (on the Circus, 1950)
Leger Fernand
In 1942 when I was in New York, I was struck by the neon advertisements flashing all over Broadway. You are there, you talk to someone, and all of a sudden he turns blue. Then the colour fades - another one comes and turns him red or yellow. The colour – the colour of neon advertising is free; it exists in space. I wanted to do the same in my canvases.
Leger Fernand quotes
There was no telling who this head, or this leg, or that arm, belonged to.. ..So I scattered the limbs in my painting and realized that in this way I was getting much closer to the truth than Michelangelo did when he concentrated on every separate muscle.
Fernand Leger
The age we live in is largely – and I think mostly – ‘objective’, but a minority is reacting against this .. ..My feeling is that I made colour –m the colour plane – ‘objective’ in 1918, 1920 and 1921. There is a feeling of objectivity in all the great Primitives- but in ‘the subject’ there is no solution for the object, which has so much intrinsic value that it is ‘’highly explosive’: it destroys all the things around it, unless they have been designed specifically to serve as a setting for it. (a letter to Simone Herman, 1933)
Fernand Leger quotes
I wanted to proclaim a return to simplicity by ways of an immediate art without any subtlety, comprehensible to all. I love (Louis ) David, because he is so anti-impressionist.. ..I love the dryness in his work and also in that of Ingres. That was my way, and it touched me, instantly.
Fernand Leger
I myself have employed the close-up, which is the cinema’s only real invention. The fragment of the object has also been of use to me; by isolating it you personalise it. All this work has led me to regard the phenomenon of objectivity as a new and highly contemporary value in itself. (around 1927)
Leger Fernand
These new means (in the modern film, 1928, fh) have given us a new mentality. We want to see clearly, we want to understand mechanisms, functions, motors, down to their subtlest details. Composite wholes are no longer enough for us – we want to feel and grasp the details of those wholes – and we realise that these details, these fragments, if seen in isolation, have a complete and particular life of their own.. ..Close-ups in the cinema are a consecration of this new vision.. ..A shoe as beautiful as a picture. A picture as beautiful as an X-ray machine.


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