Contrasts of Forms
By (author) Matthew Affron
Publication date:01 February 2007
Length of book:48 pages
PublisherUniversity of Virginia Art Museum
Between 1912 and 1914, Fernand Léger executed a large cycle of works known as the Contrasts of Forms. The series embraces the genres of landscape, still life, and figure, but at its core are numerous arresting compositions that sweep aside observation to focus on formal principles. The common denominator is a complex vocabulary of mingled cones, cylinders, cubes, and planes, vigorously outlined and scrubbed with color (in the paintings) or with black ink and white gouache (in the works on paper). The Contrasts of Forms are essential to two great chapters in the history of modern art in the years before the First World War: first, the development of cubism, and second, the emergence of abstract art.
Curated by Léger scholar Matthew Affron and organized by the University of Virginia Art Museum, this tightly focused exhibition unites two landmark paintings with eleven works on paper from major museums and private collections. Fernand Léger: Contrasts of Forms was presented at the University of Virginia Art Museum from January 19 to March 18, 2007, and will be at the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, from April 14 to June 10, 2007.
The full-color catalogue features two essays. Affron examines the logic of the Contrasts of Forms and the importance of this cycle in shaping the character of Léger’s art. Maria Gough (Stanford University) focuses on the drawings and on Léger’s notion of abstraction.