LÉGER, FERNAND. 1881-1955; & THOMAS BOUCHARD. 1895-1984.  Extensive archive of correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, ephemera and ORIGINAL PAINTED CUT-OUTS as filmed with Léger to demonstrate his process of composition.
Lot 71W
LÉGER, FERNAND. 1881-1955; & THOMAS BOUCHARD. 1895-1984.
Extensive archive of correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, ephemera and ORIGINAL PAINTED CUT-OUTS as filmed with Léger to demonstrate his process of composition.
Sold for US$ 31,250 inc. premium

Voices of the 20th Century

16 Jun 2015, 13:00 EDT

New York

Lot Details
LÉGER, FERNAND. 1881-1955; & THOMAS BOUCHARD. 1895-1984.  Extensive archive of correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, ephemera and ORIGINAL PAINTED CUT-OUTS as filmed with Léger to demonstrate his process of composition. LÉGER, FERNAND. 1881-1955; & THOMAS BOUCHARD. 1895-1984.  Extensive archive of correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, ephemera and ORIGINAL PAINTED CUT-OUTS as filmed with Léger to demonstrate his process of composition. LÉGER, FERNAND. 1881-1955; & THOMAS BOUCHARD. 1895-1984.  Extensive archive of correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, ephemera and ORIGINAL PAINTED CUT-OUTS as filmed with Léger to demonstrate his process of composition.
LÉGER, FERNAND. 1881-1955; & THOMAS BOUCHARD. 1895-1984.
Extensive archive of correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, ephemera and ORIGINAL PAINTED CUT-OUTS as filmed with Léger to demonstrate his process of composition. Comprises:
1. 11 Autograph Letters Signed ("F léger"), totaling 15 pp, 4to and 8vo, to Thomas Bouchard, February 17, 1944 to October 8, 1952, mostly with original envelopes and several with typed copied of Bouchard's replies.
2. 9 Autograph Postcards Signed ("F léger") and a Typed Telegram, to Thomas Bouchard, one with an added DRAWING on the image side of the postcard (faded), July 4, 1943 to c.1954, one postcard worn, the telegram with Bouchard's manuscript pencil notes pertaining to the film on verso.
3. Multiple manuscript and typed drafts of the narration of the film, in various hands including those of Fernand Léger (1 full page), Thomas Bouchard, and apparently Edgard Varèse (who composed the score) and Diane Bouchard; plus a few storyboard sketches, title card details, annotated interview transcripts, notes for introducing the film, etc. Over 150 pages.
4. Miscellaneous correspondence pertaining to the film, including some of Bouchard's copy correspondence and letters pertaining to screenings and notes on a Léger lecture given by James J. Sweeney. Approximately 70 pages.
5. Fernand Léger. La forme humaine dans l'éspace. Montreal, 1945. SIGNED AND INSCRIBED BY LÉGER for Thomas Bouchard. Plus 3 other books, miscellaneous invitations and ephemera.
6. 9 Photographs, including some stills from the film, some annotated on the versos.
7. An additional group of correspondence addressed to both Thomas and Diane Bouchard, not necessarily related to the film; and a large collection of invitations from Galerie Maeght and Pierre Matisse Gallery including some with original lithographed illustrations and one die-cut after Alexander Calder with a paper mobile.
8. ORIGINAL PAINTED CUT-OUTS, being the constituent "objects" of Léger's painting "La Forêt" (New Hampshire), 1942, as depicted in the film. About 25 pieces, variously on canvas, sheet tin and Masonite, the assemblage measures over 4 feet tall. Paint often flaking, canvas rolled and creased.
Provenance: the Diane Bouchard estate.

THE LÉGER-BOUCHARD ARCHIVE ON THE DOCUMENTARY FILM OF 1945, INCLUDING THE ORIGINAL PROPS. The present archive documents a particularly fecund and transitional period of Léger's work, the war years from 1940-1945 which he spent in America. Léger at one point rented studio space in the same building as Thomas Bouchard, a film maker and photographer of dancers and artists. Léger befriended both Bouchard and his daughter, Diane, who was a student at NYU around this time and acted as her father's assistant. The resultant short film, shot on 16mm and completed in 1945 with a score by Edgard Varèse, is highly sympathetic to Léger's powerful lyricism. Bouchard's experience as a photographer of dancers is in good evidence throughout and in particular in the choreographic sequence which shows Léger composing "La Forêt." This is the climactic scene in which Léger places about 25 objects on a backdrop to recreate the composition of his painting. To quote his narration (in translation): "You're about to participate in an absolutely new experience. That is, the de-composition or breaking up into details of the painting you are about to see. This has an instructive purpose; it may be a bit elementary, but it's quite necessary. Having said that a modern painting is composed of objects, we shall proceed to show you how it is constructed. Naturally such a demonstration could not be made with a subject-picture. The issue between the old schools and the moderns is thus very clear—abandonment of the subject for the enhancement of the object. Paintings are always composed of objects—note that it's never completely abstract. The object and its component parts are always what predominates."
In the very first letter from Léger to Thomas Bouchard, he anticipates "working hard" on the film. He discusses delivery of "La Forêt" to Bouchard amidst a reference to the important surrealist films Ballet m[ecanique], Entracte, and Chien Andalou. In part, "Je n'ai pas eu une minute la semaine pour m'occuper de prendre 'la Foret' chez les Raymond ... Vous series un ange de passer chez Raymond ... La toile ne pèse pas lourd—allez-y avec un papier grand—q'que punaises et prenez ca sous votre bras ... Je retourne NY la semaine prochaine. Alors je pourrais aller directement chez vous, et on travaillera durs." The painting, now at the Centre Georges Pompidou, was apparently in the home of Léger's friends Antonin and Noémi Raymond. One of the exhibition catalogs present in the archive described this work as follows: "Again ... Léger abandons all classicism and produces crowded, free moving compositions where color has the blinding clarity of American light. In The Forest burgeoning foliage and swooping birds become symbols for an entire landscape. The artist has traveled far from the dark mechanized world of over thirty years ago when he painted Nudes in the Forest. As if in preparation for his later sculpture he here introduces arbitrarily shaped openings which allow intervening space to become as positive as three-dimensional form ... The Forest is the most joyous of the entire group" (Koh, Léger, 1950, p 58).
Also of great interest is the closely written one-page manuscript by Léger describing his idea of the "new realism" and the modern primacy of the object over the subject. There is also a group of later correspondence and notes by Diane Bouchard giving further details of this important episode in her and her father's career.

Footnotes

Activities
Auction information

This auction is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future auctions, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this auction, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations

ALL BIDDERS MUST AGREE THAT THEY HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD BONHAMS' CONDITIONS OF SALE AND AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THEM, AND AGREE TO PAY THE BUYER'S PREMIUM AND ANY OTHER CHARGES MENTIONED IN THE NOTICE TO BIDDERS. THIS AFFECTS THE BIDDERS LEGAL RIGHTS.

If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

For all Sales categories excluding Arms & Armour, Coins & Medals, Motor Cars, Motorcycles, and Wine & Whisky:

Buyer's Premium Rates
25% on the first $250,000 of the Hammer Price
20% from $250,001 to $4,000,000 of the Hammer Price
12.5% on the excess over $4,000,001 of the Hammer Price

Payment Notices

Payment for purchases may be made in or by (a) cash, (b) cashier's check or money order, (c) personal check with approved credit drawn on a U.S. bank, (d) wire transfer or other immediate bank transfer, or (e) Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover credit, charge or debit card. A processing fee will be assessed on any returned checks. Please note that the amount of cash notes and cash equivalents that can be accepted from a given purchaser may be limited.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licences please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

Contacts
  1. Customer Services & Bids (Los Angeles)
    Customer services
    Bonhams
    Work
    Work +1 323 850 7500
    FaxFax: +1 323 850 6090
  2. Customer Services & Bids (New York)
    Customer services
    Bonhams
    Work
    Work +1 212 644 9001
    FaxFax: +1 212 644 9009
  3. Customer Services & Bids (San Francisco)
    Customer services
    Bonhams
    Work
    Work +1 415 861 7500
    FaxFax: +1 415 861 8951
  4. Books (US)
    General enquiries
    Bonhams
    Work
    Work +1 212 710 1308
    FaxFax: +1 212 644 9007
Similar Items