Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Toulouse, FRAC Midi-Pyrénées

Fernand Léger, tapisseries et céramiques

New to the permanent collection
From 16 December 2020 to 9 may 2021
les Abattoirs
Fernand Léger (d'après), 'Les Loisirs sur fond rouge'. Tapisserie, laine, 347 x 427 cm. Maître Guy Loudmer. Dépôt à les Abattoirs, Musée - Frac Occitanie Toulouse © Adagp, Paris

Les Abattoirs, Musée – Frac Occitanie Toulouse is presenting an exhibition that brings together a dozen or so artworks, tapestries, and ceramics by Fernand Léger, which are in harmony with his other works interspersed throughout the building.

Fernand Léger (1881–1954) wanted to be a painter who celebrated progress, both social and mechanical. He painted the world of entertainment, as well as workers in factories or industry. The emblematic motifs from his work, such as propellers, gears, and architectural elements, remind us of the avant-garde’s fascination with technological progress. While never ceasing his activity as a painter, Fernand Léger explored many creative approaches. He worked with poets, choreographers, architects, and filmmakers. He thrived on the vibrancy of his era, which he expressed through a body of work that was visible on stage, on screen, and on the walls of the city.

From the 1920s onwards, Fernand Léger became interested in an art “without boundaries”, an art that he took to the streets. He thus confirmed the importance of wall art and envisaged collaborations between painters and architects. He worked with some of the most influential personalities of the time: Robert Mallet-Stevens, René Herbst, Pierre Chareau, Charlotte Perriant, and most especially, Le Corbusier. For Le Corbusier, Léger’s painting was a sister to architecture and his paintings even called for a “new form of architecture”.

After the Second World War, Fernand Léger continued to cherish the ideal of collective wall art for the common people. In the United States, where he had spent the Second World War, he was struck by the construction of skyscapers. From that point onwards, he continued his study of the spatial power of colour begun forty years earlier, through ceramics, mosaics, stained glass, and tapestry. “I wanted to signal a return to simplicity through a direct art, accessible for everyone, without subtlety”, said Fernand Léger upon his return from exile. His use of various media, in order to increase the dissemination of his works, revealed his desire to bring modern painting to the people. Committed to social progress and education, Fernand Léger consistently defended humanist values.

This exhibition is part of the season of fabric at Les Abattoirs with Sous le fil: The Art of Fabric in the Collections of Daniel Cordier and Les Abattoirs and Marion Baruch: A Retrospective, paying tribute to one of the collectors at Les Abattoirs.