Cubism learned a lesson or two when Fernand Leger’s The Wedding hit. In fact, many art historians joke that this painting introduced Tubism. That’s because reality curves into tubes in this remarkable work. As abstract as it is, we know what it’s like at this wedding. The bride’s pale body sprawls across the canvas. It’s a luscious hint to the night ahead. This sensual aspect contrasts the wild wedding activity. So, elements intersect, fight, and parallel through the work. It feels like a carnival. Fernand was a big circus fan and it shows. He uses order too, though. Leger breaks the space with consistent groupings of shapes, color and texture.
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A raucous wedding party meets flirty foreshadow with the bride’s body. The painter uses her creamy skin color to reflect wedding night bliss. It’s in stark contrast to the varied ceremony and reception elements. Leger marks stages for all these experiences. So, the painting tells stories with many puzzle pieces. There’s shape, structure, color, and texture. All the tools in the box help boost our insight into this painter’s story.
The Wedding – A Dream Carnival
Leger entices our imagination. In fact, The Wedding feels like a fantasy. It’s a dream. We can fill in our knowledge gaps with wonder and memory from weddings in our own lives. The painting is more meaningful with what we bring to it as viewers.
Fernand uses chaos and order side by side. It reflects the up-and-down aspect of weddings. Topsy turvy emotions are common at the ceremony. This contrasts with the familiar faces and rituals at such occasions. Weddings are dramatic shows. But they also build deep connections between us. Leger’s tumultuous portrait reminds us of this wedding interplay. It’s the end of singlehood for a duo. The event’s also the marriage kickoff. Weddings symbolize a grand finale and fresh start all at once. Of course they feel like a wild carnival ride.
Fernand Leger – Progressive
Other elements of The Wedding remind us of the Leger way of painting. Parts of the piece seem to battle each other. Leger fought as a WWI soldier and it left a profound mark on him. In fact, the experience changed his technique. He went from Abstract to Cubism. Then World War II brought Leger back to his abstract method years later. So, this was a man with his paintbrush on the pulse of his environment. He cared deeply for the world around him.
Sensitive and a bit progressive, Leger wanted to democratize art. He painted outside for everybody to see. That means he made lots of outdoor murals and posters. This was a way for Leger to reach out and exhibit his work everyone for free. Not a narcissist, he created art to share. It wasn’t about himself. Still, we can learn so much about Leger just by looking at his work. His idealism, sensitivity, and complex soul shine through the paintings. Best of all, his love for the circus always brings an element of fun to the canvas as well.
Fernand Leger – Factoids
- Fernand Leger was born on the Normandy countryside in 1881.
- Leger’s consumer goods paintings were precursor to Pop Art
- Front line WWI fighting shifted his work from abstract to cubism.
- Fernand Leger loved the circus. It inspired many of his works.
- This French painter taught 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 outdoor projects like posters and murals.