Fernand Léger / La femme en bleu, 1912 / Copyrights
La femme en bleu, 1912
In 1911-12, Léger began to develop his own variant of Cubism, which rapidly earned him a place among the major painters of the day. He took color areas and spatial elements and assembled them into figures and landscapes. The painting shown here is one of the most important in Léger’s oeuvre. When we look closely, we can recognize at the top a woman’s profile, the blue of her torso and arms, hands as if formed of metal, then her legs. To the right, a cup waits on a table. Entirely new was Léger’s use of an unmixed color, something that tended to be avoided in Cubism (such as Picasso’s) at the time. The blue floats in large, rhythmically distributed areas over the image, and at the same time contributes to the shape of the figure. The American artist Ellsworth Kelly (* 1923), also included in the exhibition, admired Léger’s early pictures especially. As the exhibition shows, from the middle of the 1960s Kelly began “detaching” similar areas of pure color from the painting and making them into paintings in their own right.