press release

FERNAND LÉGER - TIMELY ART In the autumn of 2000 the prices of Fernand Léger’s art soared. In the spring of 2005 the French artist’s œuvre is presented in Denmark for the first time. With more than ninety works ARKEN spotlights Léger’s visions of man in the new age.

Intent on a radical break from his style of painting, in 1908 the French artist Fernand Léger (1881-1955) destroys the bulk of his works. He finds them too harmonious and too far from his vision of the modern; he wants the dynamic, chaotic, contrastive city culture to pervade his work. Like Picasso, Léger became one of the premier modernists in the first half of the twentieth century. In the spring of 2005 ARKEN presents how Léger provided a many-sided portrait of man in the new age.

MAN AND MACHINE Broadway, 1942. Captivated by the city’s neon ads of yellow, red and blue, Léger transfers them onto the canvas as coloured fragments. The noise of the new machines finds its way into his work as pulsating lines and angular shapes. Léger portrays man in the new conditions of the metropolis. His pictures of swimmers, acrobats, construction workers, cyclists in nature and families on picnics all illustrate Léger’s attraction to strength, movement and physical expression. With a glowing faith in a better future and a fascination with both man and machine, he is an artist of his time.

HOT STUFF Cattle farmer Henri-Armand Léger hardly suspected that one day his son Fernand would be one of the best selling artists in the world. After two retrospective exhibitions at Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris (1997) and MoMA in New York (1998) respectively, the prices of Léger’s work exploded. The pop star Madonna is said to own several works by the French painter. In 2002 Léger ranked an impressive sixth on the list of best selling artists in the world.

Léger’s impact included Denmark as well. In the 1920s Danish artists such as Asger Jorn and Franciska Clausen went to Paris to enrol at l’Académie Moderne with the French master.

FACTS ARKEN is showing over ninety of Fernand Léger’s works from the period 1905 to 1954, the first presentation in Denmark of such a wide selection of the artist’s works. A unique opportunity to familiarise yourself with all of Léger’s production, the exhibition includes paintings, drawings, water colours and large-scale tapestries. In addition ARKEN shows examples of Léger’s films, book illustrations as well as theatre and ballet sets. Furthermore Léger’s thoughts on art theory will be available in the form of excerpts from his essays on the function of art in society.

The Fernand Léger exhibition is mounted in collaboration with Musée National Fernand Léger in Biot (F). ARKEN has supplemented the loans from Centre Georges Pompidou, Tate Modern and others.


Fernand Léger – Man in the New Age
Kooperation Musée National Fernand Léger, Biot