paris

Fernand Léger

Centre Pompidou

Unlike nearly all his great Parisian contemporaries, Fernand Léger seems never in his mature work to have taken his studio as a subject for his painting, nor to have made a self-portrait, two classic themes in French art. Always he looked outside, utopian eyes taking in the scene. The spectacle of the modern world was his theater; he had no truck with sensuous fantasy, introspective chiaroscuro, or the venting of personal feelings. His sturdy delight in la vie moderne is embodied in depictions of work and sport, leisure and application, the new and the raw. In all of these the human figure is an idealized component. At the same time, his slowly unfolding sense of design in grand, bolted compositions places him squarely in the classic French tradition. As you walk through the retrospective of 220 works at the Centre Georges Pompidou, drafts from the past assail you—from Fouquet and Poussin,

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