War and Art↑
The French painter, Fernand Léger (1881-1955) explored the depths of war, death and avant-garde creation. He often said how greatly his personal experience with industrial modernity as a sapper, then as a stretcher-bearer at the front influenced his art: “the breech of a 75 millimetre in the sunlight taught me more than all the museums in the world.”
He defended cubism – and was among its most radical experimenters – with macabre irony:
After being poisoned by gas at Verdun, he attempted to hole up behind the lines as a camoufleur, but despite his efforts he was still drawn to the hospital. He never depicted in his artwork the torn apart bodies that struck him so strongly; he recounted the strange horror – between impossible, "camouflaged" visions and omnipresent sounds:
Annette Becker, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense
Section Editor: Emmanuelle Cronier
Translator: Jocelyne Serveau
- Fernand Léger à Louis Poughon, Une correspondance de guerre, Les cahiers du musée national d’art moderne, 1990.
- Fernand Léger cited in: Léger, Fernand: Rétrospective, Saint-Paul-de-Vence 1988.
- Becker, Annette: Arts, in: Winter, Jay (ed.): The Cambridge history of the First World War. Civil society, volume 3, New York 2014: Cambridge University Press.
- Becker, Annette: Voir la Grande Guerre. Un autre récit, 1914-2014, Paris 2014: Armand Colin.
- Fleckner, Uwe: Der Kubismus an der Front. Militärische und künstlerische De(konstrunktion) im Werk Fernand Légers, in: Schneede, Uwe M. / Bundeskunsthalle Bonn (eds.): 1914. Die Avantgarden im Kampf, Cologne 2013: Snoeck, pp. 236-245.