Exhibitions/ Art Object

Composition (The Typographer)

Artist:
Fernand Léger (French, Argentan 1881–1955 Gif-sur-Yvette)
Date:
1918–19
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
98 1/4 × 72 1/4 in. (249.6 × 183.5 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Promised Gift from the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Not on view
This painting depicts an anonymous worker standing with his back to the viewer, presumably typesetting the red-and-white letters in front of him. The colorful segmented oval at center is the man’s hat. His ear is represented by a curved, gray, tubelike shape, and his torso is depicted in red at lower center. The dark perimeter of the oversized canvas sets off the dazzling brilliance of the center scene, which in its scale and graphic power emulates the posters and billboards that Léger saw all around him in postwar Paris. Léger made many changes to the composition, likely working on it into 1919, despite the dating on the lower right.
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right): F. LÉGER / 17–18; signed and dated (verso, upper left): F. LÉGER / 17–18; titled (upper left): LE TYPOGRAPHE [subsequently painted over and re-titled]: COMPOSITION
the artist, Paris (probably sold to Callery); Mary (Meric) Callery, Boulogne-sur-Seine (by 1939–at least 1947); Ellen and Wallace K. Harrison, New York (by 1953–74; sold in 1974 to Diamond); Harold Diamond, New York (1974– d. 1982); his widow, Hester Diamond, New York (1982–89; sold in 1989 through Stephen Mazoh & Co., New York, to Koerfer); Dr. Jacques C. Koerfer, Ascona (1989–d. 1990); his heirs, Switzerland (1990–98; their sale, Christie’s, New York, November 19, 1998, no. 326, sold to Lauder); Leonard A. Lauder, New York (from 1998)

New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Art in Our Time: An Exhibition to Celebrate the Tenth Anniversary of the Museum of Modern Art and the Opening of Its New Building," May 10–September 30, 1939, no. 171.

Philadelphia Museum of Art. "The Callery Collection: Picasso–Léger," January–February 1945.

New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Large Scale Modern Paintings," April 1–May 4, 1947, no catalogue (checklist no. 5; as "Composition," lent by Mrs. Meric Callery).

Art Institute of Chicago. "Léger: A Survey of His Art," April 2–May 17, 1953, no. 14.

San Francisco Museum of Art. "Léger: A Survey of His Art," June 15–August 23, 1953, no. 14.

New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Léger: A Survey of His Art," October 6, 1953–January 3, 1954, no. 14.

New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Paintings from Private Collections: A 25th Anniversary Exhibition," May 31–September 5, 1955, no. 74 (as "Composition," lent by a private collection, New York).

New York. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. "The Guggenheim Museum and the Arts of This Century," June 22–September 7, 1992.

New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Fernand Léger," February 15–May 12, 1998, extended to June 2, 1998, unnumbered cat. (p. 187).

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection," October 20, 2014–February 16, 2015, no. 42.

Art in our Time. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1939, unpaginated, no. 171, ill.

"The Callery Collection: Picasso–Léger." Philadelphia Museum Bulletin 40, no. 204 (January 1945), p. 39, ill. p. 46.

Léon Degand. "F. Léger." Art d’Aujourd’hui no. 3 (October 1949), unpaginated, ill. (probably on display in the residence of Mary [Meric] Callery, New York, ca. 1939).

Katharine Kuh. Léger. Urbana, 1953, pp. 24, ill. p. 25.

Katharine Kuh. Léger. Exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago, 1953, pp. 37, 85, no. 14, ill. p. 25.

Paintings from Private Collections. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1955, p. 13.

"Paintings from Private Collections." Bulletin of the Museum of Modern Art 22, no. 4 (Summer 1955), p. 32, no. 74, ill. p. 36.

Documenta. Kunst des XX. Jahrhunderts. Exh. cat., Museum Fridericianum, Kassel. Munich, 1955, sect. 4, ill. no. 3 (probably on display in the residence of Mary [Meric] Callery, New York, ca. 1939).

François Mathey, ed. Fernand Léger, 1881–1955. Exh. cat., Musée des Arts Décoratifs. Paris, 1956, p. 128, as first state, 1917–18.

Robert L. Delevoy. Léger: Biographical and Critical Study. Geneva, 1962, p. 71.

Christopher Green in Léger and Purist Paris. Exh. cat., Tate Gallery. London, 1970, p. 98, no. 7, ill. p. 54.

Fernand Léger. Exh. cat., Grand Palais. Paris, 1971, p. 10, under no. 42, as first state, 1917.

Christopher Green. Léger and the Avant-Garde. New Haven, 1976, pp. ix, 151, 159, pl. 6, as 1919.

Fernand Léger, 1881–1955. Exh. cat., Staatliche Kunsthalle. Berlin, 1980, ill. p. 152.

Robert T. Buck in Fernand Léger. Exh. cat., Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo. New York, 1982, pp. 31, 33, fig. 17.

Klaus Kertess. "Foreign Relations: Hester Diamond Blends Courtly Furniture and Classics of Revolutionary Art." House & Garden 158, no. 4 (April 1986), p. 197, ill. pp. 196, 198–99 (on display in the residence of Hester Diamond, New York), as 1917–18.

Christopher Green. Cubism and Its Enemies: Modern Movements and Reaction in French Art, 1916–1928. New Haven, 1987, p. 40, fig. 59.

Georges Bauquier assisté de Nelly Maillard. Fernand Léger: Catalogue raisonné. Vol. 1, 1903–1919. Paris, 1990, p. 262, no. 146, ill. p. 263, as 1918.

Carol Vogel. "Inside Art: Wishing and Hoping. Gifts, Loans, ‘Wish Lists’ and Permanence at the Guggenheim Museum." New York Times (July 24, 1992), p. C13, ill., as "The Printer," 1917–18.

Dorothy M. Kosinski, ed. Fernand Léger, 1911–1924: The Rhythm of Modern Life. Exh. cat., Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg. Munich, 1994, p. 24, fig. 4, as 1918.

Carolyn Lanchner. Fernand Léger. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1998, p. 186, ill. p. 187.

Jodi Hauptmann in Carolyn Lanchner. Fernand Léger. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1998, p. 81.

Beth Handler in Carolyn Lanchner. Fernand Léger. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1998, p. 175.

Andrew Butterfield. The Jacques Koerfer Collection. London, 1999, pp. 11–12, 60, 109, ill. p. 61 and unpaginated (timeline).

François-René Martin et al. Fernand Léger. Exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts. Lyon, 2004, fig. 5, p. 13 (probably on display in the residence of Mary [Meric] Callery, New York, ca. 1939 [erroneously as in the artist’s studio, about 1950]).

Carolyn Lanchner in Abstract Expressionism and Other Modern Works: The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. Gary Tinterow, Lisa Mintz Messinger, and Nan Rosenthal. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, p. 20, fig. 11.

Carol Vogel. "Billion-Dollar Cubist Gift to the Met." International Herald Tribune (April 11, 2013), p. 12, ill.

"Objects Promised to the Museum during the Year 2012–2013." The Metropolitan Museum of Art, One Hundred Forty-third Annual Report of the Trustees for the Fiscal Year July 1, 2012, through June 30, 2013 (2013), p. 46, as 1917–18.

Emily Braun and Rebecca Rabinow in Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection. Ed. Emily Braun and Rebecca Rabinow. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2014, p. 233.

Christopher Green in Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection. Ed. Emily Braun and Rebecca Rabinow. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2014, pp. 202–8, 213, 318(4)n.10, p. 319(1)n.20, (2)nn.23, 24, 26, (4)n.46, no. 42, ill. p. 203 (color), fig. 89 (verso, detail of the inscription "Composition" painted over the earlier inscription "Le typographe").

Anna Jozefacka and Luise Mahler in Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection. Ed. Emily Braun and Rebecca Rabinow. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2014, pp. 273–74, fig. 42 (on display in the residence of Hester Diamond, New York, 1986).

Emily Braun and Leonard A. Lauder in Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection. Ed. Emily Braun and Rebecca Rabinow. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2014, p. 16, fig. 12 (on display in the residence of Leonard A. Lauder, New York, 2014).

Kevin Conley. "The Family Firm." Town and Country (May 2016), ill. (color) p. 168.