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

Femme allongée

Fernand Léger (1881-1955)
Femme allongée
signed with initials and dated 'F.L 20' (lower left); signed and dated again 'F Leger 20' (on the reverse)
inkwash and pencil on paper
12 ¾ x 19 3/8 in. (32.4 x 49.3 cm.)
Executed in 1920
Galerie Simon (Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler), Paris.
Sidney Janis Gallery, New York.
Acquired from the above by the late owners, November 1956.
M. Jardot, Léger: Dessins, Paris, 1953, p. 10 (illustrated, pl. 17).
J. Cassou and J. Leymarie, Fernand Léger: Drawings and Gouaches, London, 1973, p. 68, no. 79 (illustrated; with incorrect medium).
Sale room notice
Please note the estimate for this lot is $150,000-250,000

Lot Essay

Although Léger personally experienced the horrors of mechanized warfare in the frontline trenches of World War I, he did not hesitate to embrace the machine as an essential constructive force in society once the war ended. In a series of dynamic and spatially multi-layered compositions in 1918-1919, Léger celebrated such mechanical elements; in some the figure is inextricably enmeshed, or even broken down, within a mechanical universe, and in others Léger eliminated the human presence altogether.
By 1920, however, Léger had begun to reconstitute the human figure in a more conventional form. He later recalled, “I needed a rest, to breathe a little. After the dynamism of the mechanical phase, I felt, as it were, a need for the static quality of the large forms that were to follow. Earlier, I had broken up the human body. Now I began to put it together again, to find the face again. Since then, I have always used the human form. Later it developed, slowly, towards a more realistic, less schematic representation” (quoted in J. Cassou and J. Leymarie, op. cit., p. 47).
In the works from this series, Léger defined the relative distances of his subject within the picture plane, while at the same time employing predominantly flat forms. Léger extensively modeled his figures to emphasize the roundness of the forms, which he hints at in the curves of this figure. Indeed, the use of ink, which tends to encourage flatness of application at the expense of modeling, may have guided the development of this static yet classical approach in the present work.

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