FERNAND LÉGER (1881-1955)
FERNAND LÉGER (1881-1955)
FERNAND LÉGER (1881-1955)
FERNAND LÉGER (1881-1955)
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FERNAND LÉGER (1881-1955)

Femmes aux perroquets

FERNAND LÉGER (1881-1955)
Femmes aux perroquets
signed and dated 'F. LEGER 52' (lower right)
partially glazed white earthenware ceramic relief with colored engobe
40 1⁄2 x 35 in. (103 x 88.8 cm.)
Conceived and executed in 1952; unique
Estate of the artist.
Anon. (acquired from the above); sale, Sotheby's, New York, 5 November 2004, lot 348.
Dr. Herbert Kayden and Dr. Gabrielle Reem, New York (acquired at the above sale); sale, Christie's, New York, 13 November 2015, lot 1229.
Private collection, New York (acquired at the above sale).
Gift from the above to the present owner.
G. di San Lazzarro, ed., "Homage to F. Léger," XXe Siècle Review, 1971, p. 118 (illustrated).
Paris, Galerie Louis Carré et Cie., Fernand Léger, sculptures polychromes, January-February 1953.

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Lot Essay

Léger’s Femmes aux perroquets was conceived in 1952, shortly after the artist began working in ceramic. Léger’s experiments with ceramic murals, as with his mosaic projects, were rooted in a broader desire to expand the traditional notion the nature of art, to escape the canvas, to move his art on to everything from decorative objects to the walls of public spaces. It was through Roland Brice, one of Léger’s former students and a master ceramicist, that he had come to understand the potential of this medium to enlarge his own images.
Brice and his son Claude, also one of Léger's students, were instrumental in assisting the artist to create these works. Brice began by interpreting the patterns from the gouaches and the oil on canvas paintings that Léger made available to him. Brice considered the technical aspects of the production, while Léger conceived the design and endowed the works with color.
The resulting works, which successfully translated Léger’s unique painterly style into ceramic, represent a true collaboration between the two artists. Léger's infectious sense of fun and optimism is especially palpable in the wide, open faces of the figures within the composition and especially the bird itself. A sense of dynamism is introduced by the ambiguous leaves or feathers which appear to be gracefully fluttering down the composition. The artist's brilliant white grounds, primary color fields and bold black outlines—all of which characterize his greatest paintings—enhance the rich pictorial effect of the ceramics. With each new work, Léger reached a new understanding of form and color, as this medium offered an alternative dimension for his lyrical artistic expression.
Léger wrote that his polychromed sculpture "marks a very definite evolution toward the goal of integration with architecture. This has been a preoccupation with me from the beginning, but I commenced gradually, using my easel painting as a point of departure. Now a mural art can be defined, with all its possibilities; a static or dynamic role; its uses for either the exterior or interior of buildings" (quoted in P. de Francia, Fernand Léger, New Haven, 1983, p. 246).
Femmes aux perroquet appears to have taken as its inspiration a subject that had appeared in Composition aux deux perroquets, a monumental canvas that Léger painted in 1935-1939 which is now in the collection of the Musée national d'art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (Bauquier, no. 881).

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