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FERNAND LEGER (1881-1955)

 
FERNAND LEGER - Etude Pour La Grande Parade - gouache, watercolor, pencil and ink on paper - 29 1/4 x 35 in. FERNAND LEGER - Etude Pour La Grande Parade - gouache, watercolor, pencil and ink on paper - 29 1/4 x 35 in. FERNAND LEGER - Etude Pour La Grande Parade - gouache, watercolor, pencil and ink on paper - 29 1/4 x 35 in. FERNAND LEGER - Etude Pour La Grande Parade - gouache, watercolor, pencil and ink on paper - 29 1/4 x 35 in. FERNAND LEGER - Etude Pour La Grande Parade - gouache, watercolor, pencil and ink on paper - 29 1/4 x 35 in. FERNAND LEGER - Etude Pour La Grande Parade - gouache, watercolor, pencil and ink on paper - 29 1/4 x 35 in. FERNAND LEGER - Etude Pour La Grande Parade - gouache, watercolor, pencil and ink on paper - 29 1/4 x 35 in. FERNAND LEGER - Etude Pour La Grande Parade - gouache, watercolor, pencil and ink on paper - 29 1/4 x 35 in. FERNAND LEGER - Etude Pour La Grande Parade - gouache, watercolor, pencil and ink on paper - 29 1/4 x 35 in. FERNAND LEGER - Etude Pour La Grande Parade - gouache, watercolor, pencil and ink on paper - 29 1/4 x 35 in.
Etude Pour La Grande Parade195229 1/4 x 35 in.(132.08 x 5.08 x 116.84 cm) gouache, watercolor, pencil and ink on paper
Provenance
Alexander Liberman, New York, acquired from the artist
Private Collection
Sale, Sotheby's, London, 19 June 2007, lot 33
A. Alfred Taubman
Sale, Sotheby's, New York, The Collection of A. Alfred Taubman: Masterworks, 4 Nov. 2015, lot 9
Private Collection, California
 
Literature
Werner Schmalenbach, Fernand Léger, London, 1991, p. 126
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“Above all, it is a matter of loving art, not understanding it.” – Fernand Léger

History

When Robert Hughes described the rapid decline of early twentieth century Cubism, he was quick to characterize Léger’s work as a “sustained confession of modernist hope that one cannot imagine Braque doing, that he could make images of the machine age that could cut across barriers of class and education — a didactic art for the man in the street, not highly refined, but clear, definite, pragmatic, and rooted in everyday experience.”  (Hughes, Robert, Shock of the New, Alfred A. Knopf Inc., 1980, p. 34)

Indeed, Léger made a life-long commitment to depict the common man and to create for him accessible art not limited to the world of fine art connoisseurship. During the 1940s and ‘50s, the automata persona and modeling of his early figures of tubes, barrels and linkages gave way to freely arranged bands of color juxtaposed with flattened forms of figures and objects outlined in black. The style, unabashedly simple and full of brightly lit positivism, resonated with American sensibilities and artists such as Stuart Davis and Keith Haring. The work was jazzy, fun, and readily consumed by the public. Léger credited the neon lights of New York City as the source of the innovation: “I was struck by the neon advertisements flashing all over Broadway. You are there, you talk to someone, and all of a sudden he turns blue. Then the color fades—another one comes and turns him red or yellow.” (Buck, Robert T., Fernand Léger: An Exhibition, Abbeville Press 1982, p. 52)

More
  • Leger11102_history1
    Fernand Léger 1954, The National Portrait Gallery, London Photo: Ida Kar
  • Leger11102_history2
    Fernand Léger as he poses in front of his work, New York, 7 October 1941 Photo: Arnold Newman/Getty Images
  • Leger11102_history3
    Fernand Léger, La gande parade (état définitif) (The Great Parade) 1954 The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
  • Leger11102_history4
    Étude pour la Grande Parade, 1952, Gouache and ink on paper, 12 1/2 × 17 in
“Man needs colour to live; it’s just as necessary an element as fire and water.” – Fernand Léger

Market Insights

  • Leger AMR Graph
  • Léger was a central figure of the Cubist movement whose artistic influence is rivaled by few others. 
  • The graph by Art Market Research shows that since 1976, works by Léger have increased at a 6% annual rate of return.
  • Paintings by Léger have sold for up to $70 million at auction. The record price for a work on paper is $4.7 million, set by another study for a major series.
  • Currently, Léger works on paper present an opportunity to acquire a museum-quality Léger under $5 million USD. There is an enormous disparity between the prices paid for Léger oils on canvas and the works on paper, a prudent area of acquisition ahead of the market direction. 

Top Paintings Sold at Auction

"Contraste de formes" (1913), oil on burlap, 36 ½ x 29 in. Sold at Christie’s New York: 13 November 2017 for $70,062,500 USD
“Contraste de formes” (1913), oil on burlap, 36 ½ x 29 in. Sold at Christie’s New York: 13 November 2017 for $70,062,500 USD
"La femme en bleu (study)" (1913), oil on canvas, 51 ¼ x 38 ¼ in. Sold at Sotheby’s New York: 07 May 2008 for $39,241,000 USD
“La femme en bleu (study)” (1913), oil on canvas, 51 ¼ x 38 ¼ in. Sold at Sotheby’s New York: 07 May 2008 for $39,241,000 USD
"La femme en rouge et vert" (1914), oil on canvas, 39 ¾ x 31 ¾ in. Sold at Christie’s New York: 04 November 2003 for $22,407,500 USD
“La femme en rouge et vert” (1914), oil on canvas, 39 ¾ x 31 ¾ in. Sold at Christie’s New York: 04 November 2003 for $22,407,500 USD

Top Works on Paper Sold at Auction

"Dessin pour contraste de formes, composition II" (1913), gouache on paper, 24 ½ x 18 ½ in. Sold at Christie’s New York: 06 November 2007 for $4,745,000 USD
“Dessin pour contraste de formes, composition II” (1913), gouache on paper, 24 ½ x 18 ½ in. Sold at Christie’s New York: 06 November 2007 for $4,745,000 USD
"Contraste de forms" (1913), gouache and brush and ink on paper, 20 1/8 x 25 ¾ in. Sold at Sotheby’s London: 05 February 05 2014 for $3,422,000 USD
“Contraste de forms” (1913), gouache and brush and ink on paper, 20 1/8 x 25 ¾ in. Sold at Sotheby’s London: 05 February 05 2014 for $3,422,000 USD
"Dessin pour contraste de forms No. 2" (1914), gouache and brush and ink on paper,19 ¼ x 25 ¼ in. Sold at Sotheby’s New York: 14 May 2018 for $3,422,000 USD
“Dessin pour contraste de forms No. 2” (1914), gouache and brush and ink on paper,19 ¼ x 25 ¼ in. Sold at Sotheby’s New York: 14 May 2018 for $3,422,000 USD

Paintings in Museum Collections

"La grande parade (état définitif)" (1954), oil on canvas, 9 ft. 9 ¾ inches x 13 ft. 1 ½ inches., The Guggenheim, New York
“La grande parade (état définitif)” (1954), oil on canvas, 9 ft. 9 ¾ inches x 13 ft. 1 ½ inches., The Guggenheim, New York
"Étude pour La grande parade" (1953-1954), oil on canvas, 51 ¼ x 77 in., The Menil Collection, Houston
“Étude pour La grande parade” (1953-1954), oil on canvas, 51 ¼ x 77 in., The Menil Collection, Houston
"L'Acrobate et sa partenaire" (1948), oil on canvas, 51 ¼ x 64 in., The Tate, London
“L’Acrobate et sa partenaire” (1948), oil on canvas, 51 ¼ x 64 in., The Tate, London
"The Constructors" (1951), gouache and crayon on paper, 11 ¾ x 17 in., The Museum of Modern Art, New York
“The Constructors” (1951), gouache and crayon on paper, 11 ¾ x 17 in., The Museum of Modern Art, New York
“If pictorial expression has changed, it is because modern life has necessitated it.” – Fernand Léger

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