GREAT BOOKS

The City - La Ville

Artist’s Name
Author’s Name
Edition
Fernard Léger (1881-1995)
1958, Paris
Printed in one volume, size 66 x 50 cm.
29 coloured original lithographs
Published on ‘vélin d’ Arches’ paper:
  • 180 copies, numbered 1-180
  • 20 copies, off the market, numbered I-XX
This edition of Tériade with the title The City was devoted to Paris, but it was unfinished because the artist, Fernard Léger, died. In this work, Léger recalls his personal and artistic experiences and he creates powerful moments, which express the city that inspired him. The painter worked on this subject during the last three years of his life, yet he composed not more than twenty-nine lithographs. After his death, all the off the text pictures, completed or unfinished, were collected and printed in an album, without the text of Blaise Cendrars, as was the original idea.

Léger always had something to say about his beloved city. As he was observing it, he would find even more new elements that encouraged him to create new works. In this album, the artist illustrates Paris; he begins his trip from Ruche and the slaughterhouses of the Vaugirard Street, passing by Montparnasse and the Notre-Dame-des-Champs, and he ends up at the Seine and its boats. This walk reminds him of old and recent memories, which he depicts by creating the necessary scenery: streets, theatres, buildings, swimming pools, train stations, factories etc. After all, the various Parisian stories, which have characters that represent Paris as protagonists, such as people in love, dancers, singers, swimmers, workers, fruit sellers, soldiers etc., unravel there.

These images are typical of his art technique, which is characterised by still objects, symbols of the industrial world, flat spaces, strong black outlines, clear colours and contrasts between cylindrical shapes as well as shapes that are in alignment. In many of his works, Léger isolates his protagonists or his beloved objects, like the machines, that are illustrated by depicting them bigger than they should be, so as to indicate that they have nothing to do with space. In this way, the viewer concentrates on the subject of the picture itself, letting his fantasy lead him to the unravelling of the particular story.