Christie's is honored to offer this exceptional group of rare early drawings by Léger, spanning his innovative graphic oeuvre from 1924-1933 in three year intervals (lot 207, 1924; lot 208, 1927; lot 209, 1930; lot 210, 1933). The artist's favored subjects from the period are variously represented: the finely wrought still-life with "printed letters...occur[ring] as unexpected plastic signals"; classical female form with sinuous vase; and fully abstracted shapes (J. Cassou and J. Leymarie, Fernand Léger, Drawings and Gouaches, Greenwich, 1973, p. 89). Léger's drawings from the 1920s and 1930s are marked by this shift from fine, classical forms to increasing abstraction. Indeed, at this time the "preference for still-life and the cult of the object had the same doctrinal importance for the Cubist generation as the preference for landscape and the cult of nature had for the Impressionist generation" (ibid., p. 87). The rigid order of these objects was achieved by means of the ruler, set-square and compass, which occasionally appear as subjects themselves.
The artist would later remark: "in 1923-1924 I completed paintings whose important elements were objects set right outside any kind of atmosphere and unconnected with anything normal--objects isolated from the subjects I had abandoned. The subject in painting had already been destroyed, just as the avant-garde film had destroyed the story line. I thought that the object, which had been neglected and poorly exploited, was the thing to replace the subject" (quoted in ibid., p. 87).
Property Belonging to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Through the Generosity of Albert Robin, Sold to Benefit the Museum's Programs and Acquisitions Fund