Fernand Léger. Poetics of Modern Times

Main program
6 June 2018Wednesday
Kramskoy’s Art Museum
Paintings, drawings, art and craft items from the collection of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts
June 6 - July 29
Exhibition curator: Varvara Zamahaeva

"Fernand Léger. Poetics of Modern Times" exhibition will include over 50 works of the painter from the collection of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts  - regular partner of Platonov Arts Festival. The audience will be given a unique chance to see the masterpieces of the French modernist that for a long time were kept in the museum storerooms - paintings, drawings, art and craft items.

Fernand Léger (1881 - 1955) is one of the great 20th century artists, who, along with Picasso and Braque was among the forefathers of cubism. As many of his contemporaries, Léger made a contribution to several kinds of fine arts. He demonstrated equal talent in painting and graphics; he was interested in sculpture, ceramics, stained glass and tapestry. Pushkin State Museum will show all the different angles of the painter's talent at the exhibition in Voronezh.

At the core of the exhibition, there will be Léger's paintings from late 1940s - early 1950s. At this period the brushwork of Léger has gone to total simplicity, almost poster-like clarity and confidence. "Reading" (1949)  demonstrates sharp expressive lines and free arrangement of colour planes. The main character of the "Woman with a Bird against a Red Background" (1952) seems to be descending from a postwar poster, calling for peace. Familiar features of Nadia Khodasevich Léger, the painter's wife, student and loyal assistant, can be traced in these portraits, yet at the same time, they are generalized female images.A special place in the exhibition belongs to an intimate painting “Town with birds” (1953): here the brushwork is softer and the created image is more romantic. The back of the painting is signed “Amigo” – the artist presented it to his friend – a Soviet writer Ilya Ehrenburg, a witness and activist of many events of Paris art life of the 1910s-1950s.

Fernand Léger also worked in graphic print arts, although it makes only a small part of his vast heritage. Lithography was the master's favourite technique, mostly coloured, but the artist also experimented with xylography, drypoint technique and aquatint.

At various points in his life, Fernand Léger also designed carpets and tapestries. His ambition was to change art and make his work accessible to everyone. That is why Léger, as well as Picasso, also worked with ceramics. At the exhibition, you will see several samples of earthenware plates created in the 1960s at a ceramic factory in Salin-les-Bains en Franche-Comté.

As further illustration of the artist's idea of accessibility of art, the exhibition will be completed by two tactile models, based on decorative relief, for the blind and visually impaired. Colour, an integral element of Léger's art, will be expressed in tactile models through means taking into account the needs of the visually impaired.

The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts is a museum complex that possesses one of the largest foreign art collections in Russia, including artefacts created by masters of different epochs ranging from Ancient Egypt and ancient Greece to the present day. Today, the museum's collections boast about 700,000 works. The jewel in the crown of the museum's is one of the most famous in the world collections of French impressionists and post-impressionists.