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Fernand Léger, "Contrast of Forms"

To learn about other great moments in modern art, take our online course, Modern Art, 1880-1945 or Pigment to Pixel: Color in Modern and Contemporary Art. . Created by The Museum of Modern Art.

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  • old spice man green style avatar for user Petrie (Peter S. Asiain III)
    Who is Fernand Léger?
    Okay I searched it and found my answer at Wikipedia, I posted the link below the article from Wikipedia
    Joseph Fernand Henri Léger (French: [leʒe]; February 4, 1881 – August 17, 1955) was a French painter, sculptor, and filmmaker. In his early works he created a personal form of cubism which he gradually modified into a more figurative, populist style. His boldly simplified treatment of modern subject matter has caused him to be regarded as a forerunner of pop art.
    (11 votes)
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    • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Alex Gruenenfelder
      So you do not need an answer? If you still do, I can recommend a few books on him and various other resources to you. Otherwise, that's fine, but if you want information, I'm always here to help. And Wikipedia should be trusted for information confirmed by other resources, but don't trust it completely.
      (13 votes)
  • leaf green style avatar for user Jon Dough
    Would artists that started painting more abstract (but could still paint very realistic and lifelike if they wanted, like Picasso) take as long to paint their modern, abstract paintings as opposed to their traditional paintings? It looks like they could just whip some abstract paintings out in minutes, whereas traditional paintings look like they'd take much longer.
    (5 votes)
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    • leaf green style avatar for user Nicole
      I think it can take very long to make an abstract painting. While some of them seem to be made out of the moment, without much planning before, others are very well planned and also often they are more complicated than they seem to be at first. If you look at Rothko's paintings (there are examples here on KA), they seem to be very simple, but in fact they are made of different layers of colour, so it took much longer to make them than it seems at first
      (5 votes)
  • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user mjorr5
    now that is BRILLIANT ! how does he get that idea ?
    (3 votes)
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  • female robot ada style avatar for user Sedna
    At it says it again at . My question is who is "he"?
    (2 votes)
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Video transcript

(music) - [Anna Temkin] 1913 was a banner year for Leger. It was the year in which he figured out how to become a Leger instead of a follower of Picasso or Braque. He did a large series of paintings entitled Contrast of Form. Each of these examined the ways in which these basic primary and secondary colors could be put together with black and white in order to make a canvas like, that music, could be appreciated without having to read it as a certain kind of scene or a narrative. Contrast of Forms, what does that tell you, not a whole lot, so what he's not telling you, very deliberately, is that this painting would have been figures and you see these kind of mechanical shapes, almost like mannequins or tin men, that form these vertical stacks, very much like bodies. Like any painter at that time, Leger would have training from life to do anatomy. Now he's trying to put that behind him trying to turn what might be a rather calm image into one that almost seems like a snapshot caught at an accidental moment in mid motion. He wants you to look at this painting as a painting. He leaves so much of that burlappy canvas blank and raw, those pigments on it, they feel kind of crusty and almost like they're put there not by a painter with a fine brush, but somebody applying things in a much more rugged way, in a much more hands on way. The white is applied almost like chalk. It's so rough. To make this picture pop, an offsetting, contrast, as Leger knew, to these reds and blues, yellows and greens, that would have been unthinkable in painting a mere ten years before this. I bet you when this painting was put on view in 1913, most of the viewers would have thought, "When is the painter gonna come along "and turn this sketch into something "that's actually a final product?"