Cubism learned a lesson or two when Fernand Leger’s The Wedding hit. In fact, many art historians joke that this painting introduced Tubism… because reality curves into glorious tubes in this remarkable work. As abstracted as it is, we know what it’s like at this wedding. The bride’s pale body luxuriates across the canvas in luscious hints to the night ahead. This sensual aspect contrasts the strident excitement of wedding activity. These elements intersect, combat, and parallel throughout the work. It feels like a carnival. Fernand was a big fan of the circus and it shows. He creates order too, though. Leger differentiates the space with consistent groupings of shapes, color and texture.
A raucous wedding party atmosphere meets flirty foreshadowing represented by the bride’s body. The painter uses her creamy complexion color to signify wedding night bliss. It lies in stark contrast to the sharp, varied ceremony and reception elements. Leger creates flashes and stages for all these experiences. So, the painting tells stories with many elements at a time. There’s shape, structure, color, texture, and combination. All the tools in the box help us understand and develop insight into this painter’s story.
Dream Wedding Carnival
Leger invites us to use our imagination. In fact, The Wedding might even feel like a fantastical dream. We can fill in the gaps of our understanding with the wonder and memory from the weddings in our own lives. The painting is all the more meaningful with what we bring to it as viewers.
Fernand uses chaos and order side by side to reflect the up-and-down aspect of weddings. Topsy turvy emotions are common at the ceremony. This lies in contrast with familiar faces and rituals inherent to such occasions. Weddings are dramatic shows that also draw out deep true connections between us. Leger’s tumultuous portrait reminds us of this interplay at weddings. The end of singlehood for a duo and very beginning of their marriage. Weddings symbolize a grand finale and fresh start in relationships all at once. Of course they feel like a wild carnival ride.
Fernand Leger – Factoids
- Fernand Leger was born on the Normandy countryside in 1881.
- Leger’s paintings of consumer goods served as precursor to Pop Art
- Front line WWI fighting shifted his paintings from abstract to cubism.
- Fernand Leger loved the circus. It inspired many of his works.
- He taught many incredible artists including Saloua Raouda Choucair, Louise Bourgeois, William Klein, Tarsila Do Amaral and Marlow Moss.
- After WWII, Leger’s work shifted back into abstract perspectives.
- Fernand Leger believed art was for everyone. He made it accessible with lots of outdoor work like posters and murals.