BOZAR in Brussels, Belgium is hosting a major retrospective of the early 20th century French painter Fernand Léger. Displaying some 100 works and a wide array of archival documents, the exhibition offers a broad examination of the artist whose ambitious and experimental achievements in art and design left a diverse collection of not just paintings, but also prints, pottery, stage sets, films and architecture.
Alongside Picasso and Braque, Léger is regarded as a cubist painter but once he departed from cubist style, he developed his own form characterized by thick contour lines, simple forms, and clear-cut colors. Les Loisirs-Hommage à Louis David (fig. 1) seems prescient of pop art with its use of just a few primary colors and clear-cut outlines. It depicts ordinary people cycling and picking flowers, enjoying the countryside.
An architectural draftsman before becoming a painter, Léger was well-versed in architecture and had close ties with his contemporary architects such as Le Corbusier. He painted murals on their structures and also incorporated buildings and construction materials such as steel and pipes into his works. His paintings of heavy machinery used to build skyscrapers, and the workers were expressions of Léger’s ideals of the harmony between modern machine civilization and humanity. The exhibition showcases Léger’s consistent view of his ideal world with works ranging from the early 1924 experimental Ballet Mécanique, which portrays dancing machines through a collage of people and machinery, to his late masterpiece painting Les Constructeurs – definitive which depicts the inhuman steel and the workers.
Fernand Léger Until 3 June 2018
+32 (0)2 507 82 00
Tue, Wed, Fri-Sun 10:00-18:00
Closed Monday, 25 December, 1 January