Fernand Léger's contrasting rhythms

On 06 June 2019, by Anne Doridou-Heim

When the painter reinvented the centuries-old theme of the still life in light of modernity, he created a jewel of pure graphic design.

Fernand Léger (1881-1955), Still Life with Vases, 1928, oil on canvas, 34 x 46 cm.
Result: €191,912

The most eagerly awaited painting of this sale devoted to modern art did not disappoint at €191,912. Still Life with Vases, dated 1928 and signed Fernand Léger (1881-1955), had more than one card up its sleeve, starting with provenance from the Louise Leiris gallery: its frame was covered with European exhibition labels. In the mid-1920s, Léger focused on and reinterpreted still lifes, arranging his compositions around a key object – here a vase – and giving them rhythm through the play of contrasts between black and white. Other eagerly expected – and well-received – works were three drawings and collages by Kurt Schwitters (1887-1949). Two date from 1947, Mzx16 With Green Spot (€25,760) and White Square (€34,776), the third, For My Friend from 1941 (€29,624). The German artist, who embodies the Dada spirit, created the "Merz" movement in parallel, abandoning classical media to make collages from heterogeneous and recycled objects. "I don't see why used streetcar tickets, floating bits of wood, buttons and old scraps from the attic couldn't be used as materials for painting," he said.

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