Fernand Léger’s “Contraste de Formes” (1914) is an example of the artist’s modernist style and his pursuit of pictorial representation and the depiction of three dimensions with only two. Through his artwork, viewers can observe how different objects showolve to produce altered space, as well as bold colors highlighting key elements within a piece and guiding the viewer’s attention. The shapes used in the painting assemble and overlap, generating contrast between outlined areas, as well as mass forms filled with color are outlined in black paint. Scholars such as art historian Meyer Schapiro have suggested that Contraste de Formes has been an influence on some contemporary artists’ work, like Picasso, Braque, Gris, Duchamp or Malevich.
The artwork is seen by many as an early example of cubism and how landscape areas inter freely with outlined areas, producing changeable spatial volumes through repetition and solidity. As a result, Fernand Léger demonstrates his ability to accurately portray his visions onto the canvas.
The knowledge and expression demonstrated in this painting set it apart from other works of cubism for more than its unique visual undertones – but for its ability to transmit emotion through its contrasts. An iconic work from the cubism movement and one that speaks to today’s viewers; completing alluding to Fernand Léger impact in art history decades later. As a contrastive reflection on another famous artwork, “The Library,” by Jacob Lawrence (1960) holds almost exact opposition in line composition and punctual colors tones while conveying a similar message though its embodiment of formlessness.