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    Sale 7600

    Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale

    25 June 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 530

    Fernand Léger (1881-1955)

    Les deux fusils

    Price Realised  

    Fernand Léger (1881-1955)
    Les deux fusils
    signed and dated 'F.LÉGER.29' (lower right); signed, dated and inscribed 'Les deux fusils F.LEGER.29' (on the reverse)
    oil on canvas
    35 7/8 x 28 5/8 in. (91.7 x 72.8 cm.)
    Painted in 1929


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    'I consider plastic beauty in general to be completely independent from sentimental, descriptive, and imitative values. Every object, picture, architectural work and ornamental arrangement has an intrinsic value that is strictly absolute, independent of what it represents... My aim is to try to lay down this notion: that there are no categories or hierarchies of Beauty - this is the worst possible error. The Beautiful is everywhere; perhaps more in the arrangement of your saucepans in the white walls of your kitchen than in your eighteenth-century living room or in the official museums' (F. Léger, The Machine Aesthetic: The Manufactured Object, the Artisan and the Artist, 1924).

    Les deux fusils was painted during a time of great upheaval in Léger's art. His purist, geometric aesthetic had reached its culmination only a short while previously when his work had achieved a sublime balance of form and colour that was based on the integral beauty of an isolated object. Now, however, Léger began to use the forms in his paintings to disrupt and unbalance the harmony that he had strived for so fiercely.

    Although Léger had largely turned his back on the geometry and order that represented his visual expression of purism, he continued to employ both real objects and images of abstraction together in his pictorial vocabulary. These object-based but semi-abstract paintings, like Les deux fusils, express what Léger called a 'lyricism in which colour, form and object play equal parts', each blending into a new objective unity that Léger hoped would enhance the inherent beauty to be found in the everyday modern world. Each element therefore is given equal status in the carefully studied composition and each element independently contributes an equal importance in the vibrant construction of the whole. As Léger stated in 1925; 'In contemporary life if one looks twice, and this is an admirable thing to do, there is no longer anything of negligible value. Everything counts, everything competes and the scale of ordinary, conventional values is overturned' (The Machine Aesthetic II, Paris, 1925).

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    Provenance

    Paul Rosenberg, Paris.
    Sidney Janis Gallery, New York.
    Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris (no. 16203).
    Galerie Hans Strelow, Dusseldorf.
    Waddington Galleries, London.
    Anonymous sale, Sotheby's, New York, 11 November 1987, lot 66.


    Literature

    E. Tériade, 'Documentaire sur la jeune peinture, II, De l'avènement classique du Cubisme', in Cahiers d'Art, Paris, 1929, no. 10, p. 455 (illustrated fig. 7).
    G. Bauquier, Fernand Léger, Catalogue raisonné, 1929-1931, Paris, 1996, no. 615 (illustrated p. 34).


    Exhibited

    Brussels, Galerie Isy Brachot, Fernand Léger, 1975, no. 2 (illustrated on the cover).
    Berlin, Staatliche Kunsthalle, Fernand Léger, 1881-1955, 1981, no. 57 (illustrated p. 296).
    London, Waddington Galleries, 1982, no. 52.
    Villeneuve d'Ascq, Musée d'Art Moderne, Fernand Léger, 1990, no. 28 (illustrated p. 115).