Léger: Modern Art and the Metropolis

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Léger: Modern Art and the Metropolis
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This is my favorite sort of book to edit: one that overturns commonplace assumptions about art. When thinking about the early twentieth century, it’s hard not to see Picasso in the foreground. But this book shows us that Léger—and his international cohort of artists, architects, filmmakers, choreographers, and writers—were at the intersection of everything modern in the 1920s. “Let’s . . . look with fully opened eyes at the contemporary,” wrote Léger, “as it rolls along, shifts, and brims over beside us.” He was at the center of an avant-garde grappling with the increasing diversity, unsettling economic forces, and technological developments that shaped Paris and other cities, and that are not so different from issues that challenge us today. Page after page, image after image, you feel the city’s pulse and hear its noise. You sense the exuberance and optimism of an artistic community that crossed boundaries between high art and mass culture, exchanging ideas at a rapid-fire pace that mirrored the pace of the city itself.

—Mary Cason, Editor, Publishing Department, Philadelphia Museum of Art

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With his landmark 1919 painting The City, Fernand Léger (1881–1955) inaugurated a vitally experimental decade during which he and others redefined the practice of painting in confrontation with the forms of cultural production that were central to urban life, ranging from graphic and advertising design to theater, dance, film, and architecture. This catalogue casts new light on the painting (reproducing all of its studies together for the first time), the avant-garde use of print media, and Leger's fascination with cinema and architecture, and contextualizes a network of international avant-gardes-including Blaise Cendrars, Le Corbusier, Jean Epstein, Piet Mondrian, Amedee Ozenfant, Francis Picabia, and Theo van Doesburg-in relation to Léger. Featuring nearly 250 images of paintings, architectural designs, models, posters, set designs, and film stills and an anthology of relevant historical texts not previously published in English, this handsome volume conveys the spirit of experimentation of the 1920s. Scholars in the fields of art, architecture, and film history offer a deeper understanding of the relationship between art and the modern urban experience that defined this significant chapter in the history of modern art.
Details
  • Hardcover
  • 9 1/2" x 11"
  • 256 pages
  • 249 illustrations, 238 in full color.
  • Publisher: Philadelphia Museum of Art in association with Yale University Press, 2013
  • ISBN: 9780300197662
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