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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Fernand Leger was a deep-thinking individual who openly discussed many different elements about art, including the theoretical aspect. Learn more about the personality and views of this great artist through our collection of quotes that are listed below.

Famous Quotes by Fernand Leger

Above all, it is a matter of loving art, not understanding it.

Abstract art came as a complete revelation, and then we were able to consider the human figure as a plastic value, not as a sentimental value. That is why the human figure has remained willfully inexpressive throughout the evolution of my work.

Enormous enlargements of an object or a fragment give it a personality it never had before, and in this way, it can become a vehicle of entirely new lyric and plastic power.

I dispersed my objects in space and got them to hold together by making them radiate forwards, out of the picture. It's all an easy interplay of chords and rhythms made up of foreground and background colours, of conducting lines, of distances and of contrasts.

If pictorial expression has changed, it is because modern life has necessitated it.

I organize the opposition between colors, lines and curves. I set curves against straight lines, patches of color against plastic forms, pure colors against subtly nuanced shades of gray.

I sometimes ask myself what contemporary painting would be like without Cézanne... Cézanne taught me to love forms and volumes; he made me concentrate on drawing. It was then that I felt that drawing must be strict and absolutely unsentimental.

I wanted to proclaim a return to simplicity by ways of an immediate art without any subtlety, comprehensible to all. I love Louis David, because he is so anti-impressionist.. .I love the dryness in his work and also in that of Ingres. That was my way, and it touched me, instantly.

Let us gaze wide-eyed at present-day life, which rolls, moves, and overflows alongside us. Let us endeavor to dam it up, canalize it, organize it plastically. A huge task, but feasible... The intensity of the street breaks one's nerves and drives one crazy... Let us organize outer life in our domain: form, color, light.

Let us organise outer life in our domain: form, color, light.

Man needs colour to live; it's just as necessary an element as fire and water.

Modern man lives more and more in a preponderantly geometric order. All human creation mechanical or industrial is dependent upon geometric intentions.

The realistic value of a work is completely independent of its properties in terms of content.

There was no telling who this head, or this leg, or that arm, belonged to.. .So I scattered the limbs in my painting and realized that in this way I was getting much closer to the truth than Michelangelo did when he concentrated on every separate muscle.

The time of the often criticized art without real subject [l'art pour l'art] and the art without object [ Abstract art ] seems to be over. We are experiencing a new return to the meaningful subject, which the common people can understand.

This truth must be recognized as a dogma and assume the validity of an axiom in the general understanding of painting.

To be free and yet not to lose touch with reality, that is the drama of that epic figure who is variously called inventor, artist or poet.

What does that represent? There was never any question in plastic art, in poetry, in music, of representing anything. It is a matter of making something beautiful, moving, or dramatic - this is by no means the same thing.

Quotes about Fernand Leger by Art Historians and Fellow Artists

Léger embraced the Cubist notion of fracturing objects into geometric shapes, but retained an interest in depicting the illusion of three-dimensionality. Léger's unique brand of Cubism was also distinguished by his focus on cylindrical form and his use of robot-like human figures that expressed harmony between humans and machines... Influenced by the chaos of urban spaces and his interest in brilliant, primary color, Léger sought to express the noise, dynamism, and speed of new technology and machinery often creating a sense of movement in his paintings that captured the optimism of the pre-World War I period.


Léger was a big, avuncular, kindly sort of man, as I remember him. And he would look at what I — [laughs] — put there, and he'd find something. He only made one or two comments. The one I remember was, "Ça, ça saut de la peinture" He'd find a place, and he'd say: "That jumps out of the painting." Or he'd say: - he had this, I think, Norman accent - "Ça commence:" [Laughs.] "That's beginning." And those two - no - but he had body language, too. You knew if he liked it or if he didn't like it by watching him.

Dore Ashton

You can tell in Léger just when he discovered how to make it like an engine.. .What's wrong with that? You see it in Barney (= Barnett Newman) too, that he knows what a painting should be. He paints as he thinks painting should be, which his pretty heroic.

Franz Kline

It is curious to note that the most intellectual kind of painting, the one that tries to reduce reality to its essential elements, is ultimately but a visual delight. All it has kept of the world is its color. This is apparent particularly in Léger.

Albert Camus

From our very first conversation in the Closerie des Lilas the day after the opening of the first exhibition of Futurist painting [in Paris, February 1912] I noticed that Fernand Léger was one of the most gifted and promising Cubists.. .Léger's article ['Les origins de la peinture et sa valeur representative', Mai 1913) is a true act of Futurist faith which give us great satisfaction - all the more so since the author is kind enough to mention us.

Umberto Boccioni