Saturday 11 February 2012

Fernand Léger – part 2

This is part 2 of a 5-part post on the works of French artist Fernand Léger (1881 – 1955). 
For biographical notes and earlier works see part 1. 

1920 The Aviator 
oil on canvas 65 x 92 cm 
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

1920 The Bridge of the Tug 
oil on canvas

1920 The Mechanic

1920 Three Women and Still Life 
oil on canvas 73 x 92cm 
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

1920 Two Men 
ink on paper 32 x 23 cm

c1920 Composition 
oil on canvas 60 x 73 cm

1921 Breakfast

1921 Still Life in the Tankard 
Final State

1921 Three Women (Le Grand Déjeuner) 
oil on canvas 191 x 99 cm

1921 Woman with a Cat 
oil on canvas 131 x 90 cm

1922 Still Life

1923 Study for "The Creation Of The Earth" 
watercolour and tempera on paper 49 x 63 cm

1923 The Great Tug 
oil on canvas

1923 Two Figures, Naked on Red Ground

1924-27 The Study for the City Centre

1924 Animated Landscape

1925 The Baluster

1926 Accordion

1927 Still Life, King of Diamonds 
oil on canvas 92 x 66 cm

1928 Still Life With Profile
oil on canvas 74 x 92 cm

1930 Three Musicians

Thursday 9 February 2012

Fernand Léger – part 1

I think Fernand Léger was a bit of a genius – the style he became known for is unique and instantly recognisable. I’m actually putting up a 5-part post on his work – parts 1-3 looking at his canvases, parts 3-4 the ‘Cirque’ lithographic portfolio. 

Fernand Léger (1881 – 1955) was born in 1881 in Argentan, France. After an apprenticeship with an architect in Caen between 1897 to 1899, Léger settled in Paris in 1900 and supported himself as an architectural draftsman. He was refused entrance to the École des Beaux-Arts but nevertheless attended classes there beginning in 1903; he also studied at the Académie Julian. 

Léger’s earliest-known works, which date from 1905, were primarily influenced by Impressionism. 

1905 My Mother's Garden 
oil on canvas 46 x 38 cm

The experience of seeing the Paul Cézanne retrospective at the Salon d’Automne in 1907 and his contact with the early Cubism of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque had an extremely significant impact on the development of his personal style. From 1911 to 1914 Léger’s work became increasingly abstract, and he started to limit his colour to the primaries and black and white. In 1912 he was given his first solo show at Galerie Kahnweiler, Paris.

Léger served in the military from 1914 to 1917. His “mechanical” period, in which figures and objects are characterised by tubular, machinelike forms, began in 1917. During the early 1920s he collaborated with the writer Blaise Cendrars on films and designed sets and costumes for performances by Rolf de Maré’s Ballets Suédois; in 1924 he completed his first film, Ballet mécanique, which was neither abstract nor narrative but a series of seemingly unrelated images (a woman’s teeth and lips, machines, ordinary objects, and routine human activities).

Léger opened an atelier with Amédée Ozenfant in 1924 and in 1925 presented his first murals at Le Corbusier’s Pavillon de l’Esprit Nouveau at the Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs. In 1931 he visited the United States for the first time. In 1935 the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Art Institute of Chicago presented an exhibition of his work. Léger lived in the United States from 1940 to 1945 but returned to France after the war. In the decade before his death, Léger’s wide-ranging projects included book illustrations, monumental figure paintings and murals, stained-glass windows, mosaics, polychrome ceramic sculptures, and set and costume designs. In 1955 he won the Grand Prize at the São Paulo Bienal. Léger died on August 17 of that year at his home in Gif-sur-Yvette, France. The Musée Fernand Léger was inaugurated in 1960 in Biot, France.

1909-10 Nudes in the Forest 
oil on canvas 120 x 170cm

1910-11 Trouville

1911 Chimneys on rooftops 
oil on canvas 46 x 55 cm

1912 Smoke

1912-13 Landscape

1912-13 Nude Model in the Studio 
oil on burlap 129 x 96cm 
© 2009 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris

1913 Contrast of Forms 
oil on canvas 100 x 81 cm

1913 The Smoker 
gouache and ink on paper 31 x 24 cm

1914 Contrasted Forms 
oil on canvas 81 x 65cm

1918 Composition

1918 Contrast of Forms

1918 Discs

1918 Factories

1918 Still Life 
oil on canvas

1918 The Bargeman 
oil on canvas 49 x 54 cm 
© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

1918 The Disc

1918 The Man with the Pipe 
91 x 65 cm

1919 The City 
oil on canvas 230 x 298cm

1919 The Railway Crossing 
oil on canvas

1920 Mechanical Elements 
oil on canvas 92 x 60 cm 
© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Tuesday 7 February 2012

Gordon Onslow Ford - Surrealist

Gordon Onslow Ford (1912 – 2003) was one of the last surviving members of the 1930s Paris surrealist group surrounding André Breton. Born in England in 1912 to a family of artists, Gordon Onslow Ford began painting at an early age. His grandfather, Edward Onslow Ford, was a renowned Victorian sculptor. At the age of 11 he began painting landscapes under the guidance of his uncle. Following the death of his father at age 14, he was sent to the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth. The ocean affected him deeply and his early works depicted ocean scenes. The metaphor of taking a “voyage” later became an important aspect of his paintings.

He then left the Royal Navy and spent 1936-39 in Paris as a painter. Largely self-taught in art, though he made frequent visits to the studio of Fernand Léger. He met Chilean architect Roberto Matta in 1937 and was greatly impressed by his recent drawings. Matta, who was working with le Corbusier, was an accomplished draftsman and was making small drawings on the side. Onslow Ford, with his keen sense of seeing, admired Matta's drawings as "the most exciting images" he had seen in Paris.

He encouraged Matta to continue with his drawings, which eventually inspired Matta to shift his direction from architecture to painting. In Brittany with Matta in the summer of 1938 he abandoned working from nature and started to make automatic drawings. In 1938, André Breton invited Onslow Ford to join the Surrealist group in Paris and attend their meetings in Café deux Magots. Onslow Ford then became friends with Pierre Mabille, André Breton, Yves Tanguy, Esteban Frances, Wolfgang Paalen, Max Ernst and Victor Brauner among others. His love of painting also led him to collect paintings and frequently visit the studios of Picasso, Miró, de Chirico and André Masson.

In the summer of 1939, Onslow Ford rented a chateau at Chemilleu near the border of Switzerland, and invited several of his friends to stay for a couple of months. Among the friends were André Breton, Jacqueline Lamba, Yves Tanguy, Roberto Matta, Esteban Frances and Kay Sage. They spent the summer painting, exchanging ideas and reading poetry. They were visited regularly by their friend and neighbour Gertrude Stein.

Onslow Ford lived in New York from 1939 to 1941, where his first one-man exhibition was at the Nierendorf Gallery in 1940. He gave a series of lectures at the New School for Social Research 1940-41 expounding the principles of automatism; these lectures are said to have had an influence on the development of Abstract Expressionism. He was included in the exhibition First Papers of Surrealism in New York in 1942. Between 1941 and 1947 he lived in an isolated village in Mexico, where he was influenced by the art of the Tarascon Indians and where he gradually turned away from Surrealism. He settled in California 1947 and died in 2003 at the age of ninety.

1938 Landing 
oil on canvas 67.9 x 91.7 cm

1939 Man on a Green Island 
oil on canvas 65.1 x 91.4 cm

1940 Propaganda 
oil on canvas 104.7 x 168.9 cm

1944 Migrators with Bird 
oil on canvas 163.5 x 107.9 cm

1944 The Marriage 
oil on canvas 108.6 x 74.3 cm

1950 Children of the Landscape 
casein on brown paper 83.8 x 104.1 cm

1958 Birth of the Earth 
parle's paint on mulberry paper 83.8 x 157.5 cm

1962 There There One 
parle's paint on canvas 184.2 x 133.4 cm

1966 Inlanders 
acrylic on canvas 178.4 x 307.3 cm

1966 Space in Bloom 
acrylic on board 155.5 x 109.8 cm

1969 Present in Company 
acrylic on canvas 236.2 x 355.6 cm

1975 Being Spring 
acrylic on canvas 180.3 x 271.8 cm

1979 Being in Common 
acrylic on canvas 76 x 118 1/2 in

1980 Spirit Pine 
acrylic on paper 29 3/4 x 21 in

1981 Mountain Move I 
acrylic on paper 29 1/4 x 20 3/4 in

1986 X-IS 
acrylic on canvas 83 1/2 x 118 in

1989 Court the Muse 
acrylic on canvas 66 x 100 1/2 in

1990 Mind Matter Makers 
acrylic on canvas 53 x 68 1/4 in

1992 Web of Life 
acrylic on canvas 38 x 60 1/2 in

1993 All One's Company

1997 Nod of the Numina 
acrylic on canvas 48 5/16 x 82 3/4 in

2001 Seeing Green 
acrylic on paper / linen 104 x 56 in

2001 Untitled 
acrylic on mulberry paper