The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

February 4, 2016

February 4, 1881

Fernand Leger (February 4, 1881 to August 17, 1955) was a French artist who found visions of modernity enthralling. According to Encyclopedia Britannica

Léger was born into a peasant family in a small town in Normandy. He served a two-year apprenticeship in an architect’s office at Caen, and in 1900 he went to work in Paris, first as an architectural draftsman and later as a retoucher of photographs. ...
In 1914 he gave a lecture entitled “Contemporary Achievements in Painting,” in which he compared the contrasts in his paintings to the jarring appearance of billboards in the landscape. He argued that such developments should be embraced by painters as an affirmation of faith in modern life and popular culture....

Léger also experimented with other media. In 1926 he conceived, directed, and produced The Mechanical Ballet, a purely non-narrative film with photography by Man Ray and Dudley Murphy and music by the American composer George Antheil. He also designed sets for ballets and motion pictures, and he created mosaics and stained-glass windows.

During the second world war Leger was safe, teaching at Yale University and then Mills College from 1940 until 1945.

His eponymous website specifies his attraction to modernity:

During the first world war Léger came into contact with modern technology, notably cannon. The superhuman powers and precise beauty of ordnance enthralled him.
By 1920, .... Léger had achieved a mechanistic classicism, a precise, geometrically and harshly definitive monumental rendering of modern objects such as cog-wheels and screws, with the human figure incorporated as an equally machine-like being.

We see Leger's interests in mechaniform below. This painting, "
La Femme au Chat" recently changed hands for several millions at Christies. Don't confuse it with another Leger, a very similar painting with a similar name, that is better known.  Both were done in the 1920s. 

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