artist / participant
The painter, Fernand Léger, taught the art of drawing at his Academie Moderne as an indispensable prerequisite to painting. “Draw first,” he told his students. “A precise drawing, with lines, nothing but lines. Fragments first: hands, feet, then figures, and then compositions of the whole...”.
All of Fernand Léger’s painted work – canvases as well as much larger decorative murals - is preceded by preparatory drawings in which the artist adjusts his composition, studies the position of the figures, or models the effects of light and of colored contrasts. Drawing enables Léger to concentrate on the form which he seizes in its essence. He then progressively introduces color with touches of gouache or watercolor which illuminate the paper surface with their brightness.
The National Fernand Léger Museum reveals Fernand Léger’s diversity as a draughtsman by presenting these rarely shown drawings from its collection. For him, drawing is not simply an intellectual exercise in the analysis and synthesis of form destined to be brought to fruition in a painting. It is also a means of artistic expression in and of itself which Léger practices daily. Drawing reveals the intimate side of the artist, both by the subjects represented – caricatures of friends, portraits of his beloved – and by the modest formats and techniques.
Drawing reveals a personal, and often moving, dimension to the work of Fernand Léger as seen in the rigorous and sober 1930 Self Portrait. The lively and precise line work reflects the artistic curiosity of the painter as well as the emotional richness and freedom of his eye.
This winter exhibition presented by the National Fernand Léger Museum focuses on the 1921-1925 period. It is articulated around four major themes – caricatures and early drawings, cubist figures, war sketchbooks and purist studies – illustrating permanence and diversity of drawing in Fernand Léger’s work as well as the evolution of his artistic work during the first half of his career.