In line with his political ideology that art must be accessible to the common man, Fernand Léger progressed from a cubist phase to a more realist exploration in the 1930s. In this composition, fruit and other objects on a table seem to ﬂoat freely within the space, while the entire composition, pushed forward by the assertive yellow and blue, ﬂoats above the crimson background, giving this assembly of everyday objects a surrealist aura. The outlines, organically-shaped curves, are balanced out by the geometric elements of the table. Léger continued to explore the idea of shapes moving in space in his series Divers, started in Marseille in 1940 and continued during his exile in America during the war. Still life, yellow and blue is part of a series of still lives characterised by strong colours. Colour was of vital necessity to Léger. A raw material essential to life, like water and ﬁre. This work, a study for the painting Still life, yellow and blue held in the collections of the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Aalbord in Denmark, was given to Madame Albert Morancé by Léger in 1938. Albert Morancé, administrator and director of France's Fine Arts Ministry art photographic archives, set up his own publishing company in 1920 in the rue de Fleurus in Paris that specialised in the ﬁne arts, architecture and interior design, as well as founding the House of Contemporary Master Engravers. He published numerous reference works on architecture and interior design : Süe and Mare, Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, Eileen Gray, Pierre Chareau, Frank Lloyd Wright. He made friends early on with Fernand Léger and published prints by the artist. In 1923, Jean Badovici a recent graduate from the Special School of Architecture, managed to persuade Albert Morancé to launch the magazine Living Architecture. He became its editor-in-chief. Badovici kept this avant-garde magazine going for 10 years (1923-1933). It rapidly became an inﬂuential voice of the International Style (Bauhaus, Constructivism, De Stijl) by supporting modern architects, Le Corbusier in particular. Léger participated in it fully. In 1938, he produced a fresco for a house bought by Badovici in Vézelay. This work can now be found in the Zervos Museum in Vézelay. Jean Badovici introduced Christian Zervos, with whom he had shared an apartment when he was a student, to Albert Morancé, who taught him publishing and entrusted him with the responsibility of two new quarterly magazines : The Art of the House in 1923, and Art of Today (1924-1929). For its luxury edition, the magazine was enriched with original prints by Matisse, Chagall, Dunoyer de Segonzac, Dufy, Maillol, Laurencin, Vlaminck, Bonnard, Foujita, Marquet and Rouault. Zervos broke free in 1926 and launched his own magazine : The Art Notebooks. Gaston Morancé took over from his father at the head of the publishing house.
Madame Albert Morancé
Gaston Morancé, Paris
Private Collection, acquired from the latter in 1984