60
60
Fernand Léger
COMPOSITION AUX DEUX PAPILLONS (LA FEMME AUX PAPILLONS)
Estimate
1,250,0001,750,000
LOT SOLD. 1,976,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
60
Fernand Léger
COMPOSITION AUX DEUX PAPILLONS (LA FEMME AUX PAPILLONS)
Estimate
1,250,0001,750,000
LOT SOLD. 1,976,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening

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Fernand Léger
1881 - 1955
COMPOSITION AUX DEUX PAPILLONS (LA FEMME AUX PAPILLONS)

Signed and dated 43 F.LEGER (lower right); signed twice, dated and titled F. LEGER 43 Composition aux 2 papillons on the reverse


Oil on canvas
29 by 36 in.
73.5 by 91.5 cm

Painted in 1943.


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Provenance

Galerie Louis Carré, Paris

Saidenberg Gallery, New York

Mr. and Mrs. Joseph L. Block

The Art Institute of Chicago (acquired from the above in 1988 and sold: Sotheby's, New York, May 6, 2004, lot 140)

Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

Exhibited

Paris, Galerie Louis Carré, Fernand Léger: Oeuvres d'Amérique 1940-1945, 1946, no. 14
Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Alexandre Calder et Fernand Léger, 1947, no. 73
Bern, Kunsthalle, Calder, Léger, Bodmer and Leuppi, 1947, no. 67
The Art Institute of Chicago; The San Francisco Museum of Art; New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Léger, 1953-54, no. 51

Literature

Douglas Cooper, Fernand Léger et le nouvel espace, Geneva, 1949, illustrated p. 137 (as dating from 1944)
Katharine Kuh, Léger, Urbana, 1953, no. 51, illustrated p. 63 (titled Woman with Butterflies)
Pierre Descargues, Fernand Léger, Paris, 1955, illustrated p. 136
"Messages de la Grèce," Le Voyage en Grèce, Paris, 1956, illustrated p. 21
Pierre Descargues, Fernand Léger, Paris, 1997, illustrated p. 140
Georges Bauquier, Fernand Léger, 1938-1943, Le catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, Paris, 1998, no. 1119, illustrated p. 229

Catalogue Note

Composition aux deux papillons (la femme aux papillons), painted in 1943 right after Léger moved to the United States, marks what would become the artist's definitive style after the Second World War.  Composed mainly of large blocks of primary colors, the picture encapsulate's Léger's belief that,  "Truth in painting is color at its fullest: red, black, yellow since pure tones in paintings is reality."  This philosophy governed the color palette for the present work, in which bands and patches of primary colors overlap the figural elements of the composition.  Save for the butterflies that seem to hover over the surface of the canvas, all of the figures are transparent and appear to recede into the background of the picture plane.  

This picture was in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago for nearly 20 years.  Decades before it was given to the museum by Joseph Block, the museum's curator, Katharine Kuh, presciently expressed a fondness for the painting and wrote the following about it in her monograph on the artist in 1953: "A free method of employing color without regard to forms or boundaries is frequent in Léger's American work and continues after he returned to France.  As long ago as 1912 he first experimented with juxtaposed areas of pure color in The Woman in Blue.  Later, in The City, he exploited the same idea much more boldly, but still made his color conform to the outlines of objects.  However, now color determines the composition and flashes over boundary lines and forms with a disregard reminiscent of neon lights going on and off, casting arbitrary and garish reflections on passing people and surroundings.  In Woman with Butterflies [the present work] patches of kinetic color emphasize the idea of flitting butterflies and birds, setting up a point-counterpoint activity between the central human figure and the circulating insects and birds.  But Léger's chief preoccupation, together with many of his contemporaries like Picasso, Matisse and Braque, is to use color freely in order to explore and invent new kinds of space" (Katharine Kuh, Léger, Urbana, 1953, p. 62).

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening

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