Fernand Léger: cubism and the 14-18 war

There is nothing more cubist than a war like this one which divides you more or less neatly into several pieces and which sends him to the four cardinal points.
Fernand Léger photographié par Carl van Vechten (1936)
Fernand Léger

As a stretcher-bearer on the front line during the First World War, the cubist painter Fernand Léger made up for his inability to paint with drawings that he attached to the letters he sent to his wife. Worn-out soldiers, dismembered bodies, and ruined cities populate his drawings with fragmented forms. Léger makes the connection with cubism in a letter to his wife Jeanne dated March 28, 1915, “There is no more cubist than a war like that which divides you more or less cleanly a man into several pieces and sends him to the four cardinal points …”

From a selection of his drawings from the front, he painted The Card Game, where the medallioned soldiers like robots reflect the chaos of war. In Paris, he made illustrations for Blaise Cendrars, who lost his arm at the front, for J’ai Tué, published in the Belle Edition in 1918.

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