Leger and others

Some good paintings, drawings and lithographs are on display at the AGGV right now as part of the exhibition “Through the Looking Glass.” Fernand Leger is one of my heroes so it was great to see three of his lithographs I’d not seen before, and there are some fine, if minor, works by a number of his contemporaries including Calder, Magritte, and Picasso.

The show is drawn from the AGGV’s permanent collection and in addition to a few imports it features a lot of well-known BC artists from throughout the 20th century. I like most of ’em, but I’ll single out for mention a couple of paintings by BC Binning, because he’s one of my favourites on the home team. He was one of the only locals to work consistently in the constructivist tradition, which I like to think I belong to as well.

There is a historical connection between Binning and Leger, by the way. In the late 1930s BC Binning studied briefly at the Ozenfant Academy in London. Amedee Ozenfant was a great proselytizer of Modernist painting, and with Le Corbusier invented an offshoot of Cubism known as Purism, which fed into Constructivism. Ozenfant and Leger were well acquainted and for a time Leger’s work was considered to be part of the Purist canon.

And since I studied with Vancouver painter Robert Young, who studied for a time under Binning, I like to think there is a historical connection between me and Leger also (although admittedly at this point we’re getting into “six degrees of separation” territory).

On a bit of a tangent, I recently found Leger’s classic film Ballet Mecanique at the Internet Archive. It’s awesome how accessible stuff like this is now. Not so long ago you had to haunt the art house cinemas waiting for it to come up in the rotation.

And while we’re on the subject, a couple of Ozenfant’s books are also available at the Internet Archive .

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