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28

PROPERTY FROM A FAMILY TRUST

Fernand Léger
COMPOSITION
Estimate
1,500,0002,500,000
LOT SOLD. 2,292,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT
28

PROPERTY FROM A FAMILY TRUST

Fernand Léger
COMPOSITION
Estimate
1,500,0002,500,000
LOT SOLD. 2,292,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

|
New York

Fernand Léger
1881 - 1955
COMPOSITION
Signed F Léger and dated 25 (lower right)
Oil on canvas
21 1/4 by 25 1/2 in.
54 by 64.7 cm
Painted in 1925. 
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Léonce Rosenberg (Galerie L'Effort Moderne), Paris

Alfred Barr, New York (acquired from the above in 1935)

Helen Lansdowne Resor, New York (acquired through the above in 1935)

Stanley R. Resor, Connecticut (by descent from the above)

Acquired from the above in 2010

Exhibited

Boston, The Institute of Modern Art & New York, Wildenstein, The Sources of Modern PaintingA Loan Exhibition Assembled from American Public and Private Collections, 1939, n.n.

Rome, Complesso del Vittoriano, Picasso, Braque, Léger and the International Language of Cubism, 2013, n.n. 

Literature

Bulletin de l'Effort Moderne, Paris, June 1925, illustrated no. 17

"Fernand Léger au Kunsthaus de Zurich" in Cahiers d'Art, Paris, 1933, illustrated no. 3-4 (titled Nature morte)

Fernand Léger 
(exhibition catalogue), Kunsthaus Zurich, 1933, n.n., illustrated in the catalogue 

Georges Bauquier, Fernand LégerCatalogue raisonné1925-1928Le catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, Paris, 1993, no. 425, illustrated p. 60

Catalogue Note

Painted in 1925, Composition is a boldly colored painting which alludes to the importance of architecture as an aesthetic influence in Léger’s painting in the years after the war and his association with the Purist artist Charles-Édouard Jeanneret (Le Corbusier).  Le Corbusier, who made more of a name for himself as an architect than as a painter, was a leading proponent of mathematical precision and the solidity of form in art.  Léger was initially drawn to the general principles of Purism but ultimately found them too rigid for his painting. But in this picture, Léger focuses on the clarity and solid geometry of his objects, adhering to the primary concerns of the Purist objective. 

While the present work is comprised of almost entirely geometric forms, a small standing female figure appears at the right of the composition with her arm raised above her head. This figure is a clear reference to a recurrent silhouette which appeared in many of Le Corbusier’s buildings and paintings known as the Modulor Man. Often depicted with one arm raised as in the present work, Le Corbusier’s Modulor Man was the mascot of his anthropometric scale of proportions.  Le Corbusier developed the Modulor as a universal system of proportions developed as a visual bridge between the imperial and the metric systems. The Modulor system is based on the height of a man with his arm raised and was developed in attempt to discover and utilize the mathematical proportions of the human body to improve the appearance and function of architecture.

Writing about Léger's oil paintings from 1924-27, Christopher Green commented: "They are the product of a pictorial idea of the figure or object whose brutal 'plastic' simplicity is personal, but which is the product of an approach to the realities of modern life indelibly tinged with the idealism of L'Esprit Nouveau, an approach which remains stubbornly 'realist' but whose highly selective vision of the world picks out the most useful, the most geometrically 'pure', the most precisely finished of its manufactures, and subjects even the nude or the figurative fragment to the mass-production yet 'classical' values thus extracted. And in their grand, harmonious architecture with its clear articulation of spatial incident, these paintings are at the same time the product of an international avant-garde....Their assurance and the conviction they carry is founded on more than fifteen years of faith in what was then most modern about the industrial world, of openness to what was most new in the avant-garde and of experiment in book illustration, theatre and film as well as in painting" (C. Green, Léger and the Avant-garde, New Haven, 1976, p. 310).

The present work is distinguished by its important early provenance. Composition was acquired directly from the artist’s dealer, Léonce Rosenberg, a decade following its completion by Alfred Barr, the esteemed American art historian and the first director of The Museum of Modern Art in New York. Barr acquired the work for his close friend and collector, Helen Lansdowne Resor the revolutionary American advertising executive and active participant in the suffrage movement. 

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

|
New York