Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris
Perls Galleries, New York
Fritz & Peter Nathan, Zürich
Annely Juda, London
Waddington Galleries, London
Sale: Christie's London: Monday, June 25, 1990, lot 58
Bern, Kunsthalle, Fernand Léger, 1952, no. 94
Verging between figuration and abstraction, Fleurs et dominos combines everyday objects – scattered dominos – with biomorphic and abstract forms. The various elements that make up the composition are all rendered in the same, two-dimensional manner, thus emphasising the flatness of the picture plane. Executed in large blocks of solid pigment and heavily delineated in black outlines, the work encapsulates Léger's belief in the key role of pure color in his painting. Rather than representing a likeness of the world that surrounds him, the artist uses overlapping patches of color as the principal element of the composition, creating new spatial relationships within the two-dimensional plane of the canvas. As a result, Léger's composition defies a sense of gravity and transcends the earth-bound nature of a traditional landscape or still-life.
Léger himself explained the abstract element of his painting: 'The realistic value of a work of art is completely independent of any imitative character. This truth should be accepted as dogma and made axiomatic in the general understanding of painting [...] Pictorial realism is the simultaneous ordering of three great plastic components: Lines, Forms and Colours [...] the modern concept is not a reaction against the impressionists' idea but is, on the contrary, a further development and expansion of their aims through the use of methods they neglected [...]. Present-day life, more fragmented and faster moving than life in previous eras, has had to accept as its means of expression an art of dynamic divisionism; and the sentimental side, the expression of the subject (in the sense of popular expression), has reached a critical moment [...]. The modern conception is not simply a passing abstraction, valid only for a few initiates; it is the total expression of a new generation whose needs it shares and whose aspirations it answers' (quoted in Dorothy Kosinski (ed.), Fernand Léger, 1911-1924, The Rhythm of Modern Life, Munich and New York, 1994, pp. 66-67).
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