Fernand Léger (1881-1955)
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Fernand Léger (1881-1955)

Composition mécanique

Fernand Léger (1881-1955)
Composition mécanique
signed with the initials and dated 'F.L. 19' (lower right)
pen and India ink on paper
12 x 9½ in. (30.5 x 24 cm.)
Executed in 1919
Anonymous sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 10 December 1986, lot 43.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
G. Néret, Fernand Léger, Paris, 1990, no. 78.
Jerusalem, The Israel Museum, Fernand Léger, Oeuvres sur papier, April - June 1989, no. 35.
Milan, Palazzo Reale, Fernand Léger, November 1989 - February
1990, no. 76.
Villeneuve d'Ascq, Musée d'Art Moderne, Fernand Léger,
March - June 1990, no. 83.
Paris, Galerie Berggruen & Cie, Fernand Léger, gouaches, aquarelles et dessins, October - November 1996, no. 10 (illustrated).
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Lot Essay

Léger's most intense and rigorous involvement with the machine as object occurred in 1918-1919, immediately following the war, at the height of the phase he called his 'mechanical period.' He avoided a merely descriptive approach to the machine and instead sought to pictorially break up, transform and purify his subject. Léger wrote, 'I have never enjoyed copying a piece of machinery. I invent images from machines, as others have made landscapes from their imagination. For me, the mechanical element is not a fixed position, an attitude, but a means of succeeding in conveying a feeling of strength and power... I try to create a beautiful object with mechanical elements' (quoted in "The Machine Aesthetic II", Functions of Painting, New York, 1973, p. 62).

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