341
341
Fernand Léger
LE COMPOTIER BLEU
Estimate
350,000450,000
LOT SOLD. 352,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
341
Fernand Léger
LE COMPOTIER BLEU
Estimate
350,000450,000
LOT SOLD. 352,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist and Modern Art Part Two

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New York

Fernand Léger
1881 - 1955
LE COMPOTIER BLEU
Signed and dated F. LEGER 48 (lower right); also signed, titled and dated F. LEGER 48 on the reverse
Oil on canvas
19 3/4 by 25 5/8 in.
50 by 65 cm
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Provenance

Galerie Maeght, Paris
Paul Kantor Gallery, Beverly Hills
Shirley and Stanley N. Barbee, Los Angeles (acquired from the above), and sold: Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., New York, October 15, 1969, lot 57
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Exhibited

Paris, Orangerie des Tuileries, La nature morte de l'Antiquité à nos jours, 1952, no. 113

Literature

Mircea Deac, Léger, Bucharest, Meridiane, 1972, illustrated p. 52
Georges Bauquier, Fernand Léger Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint 1944-1948, Paris, 2000, no. 1293, illustrated p. 210

Catalogue Note

After a period of working with abstract imagery, Léger returned to the use of realistic subjects for his paintings in the 1940s and '50s.  Léger did not view this change as a rejection of the aims of abstraction, however, but rather as a way of continuing to pursue the aims of pure painting with a new vocabulary.  Léger wrote in 1950, “New subjects, envisaged with the contribution of the freedoms that previous experimentation has offered, must emerge and establish themselves.”  The goals were still the same, according to Léger, whether the image included objects form the everyday world or was completely abstract,  “The plactic life, the picture, is made up of harmonious relationships among volumes, lines, and colors.  These are the three forces that must govern works of art.  If, in organizing these three essential elements harmoniously, one finds that objects, elements of reality, can enter into the composition, it may be better and may give the work more richness.  But they must be subordinated to the three essential elements mentioned above (as cited in Beth Handler’s contribution to (Fernand Léger, Museum of Modern Art, (exhibition catalogue) New York, 1998, p. 247).

Le compotier bleu is a wonderful example of the approach to painting that Léger described.  Painted in 1948, this deceptively simple composition is actually a complex combination of the organic forms; the still life juxtaposed with a phytomorphic design.  Léger also combines three-dimensional forms such as the solid blue vase with more organic devices that serve to heighten the viewer's visual experience.  There is no device that grounds either the compotier or the branches, but instead a neutral gray field suspends the composition that moves seamlessly from background to the first plane of the viewer. 

The elements in the present work at first glance seem to be related to conventional still-life subjects.  However, they are not used in a traditional manner and defy categorization and perspective.  They appear to lie directly on the picture plane, floating above the gray background.  As Léger explained, "I placed objects in space so that I could not place an object on a table without diminshing its value.  I selected an object, chucked the table away.  I put the object in space, minus the perspective.  Minus anything to hold it there.  I then had to liberate the color to an even greater extent"  (Dora Vallier, 'La vie fait l'oeuvre de Fernand Léger,' Cahier d'Arts, no. 2, Paris, 1954, pp. 152-153). 

Fig. 1  Fernand Léger in his studio, 1945

Impressionist and Modern Art Part Two

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New York