An important ink on linen by the French Artist Fernand Leger was stolen yesterday from New York’s posh, Upper East Side Carlyle Hotel. The work valued at $350,000 was painted in 1917 and titled “Composition aux element mecaniques.” Leger, an early modernist painter is important in the Cubist movement and is considered a 20th century master. A worker told authorities that he saw a man behaving suspiciously earlier in the evening. The Leger painting, went missing from the lobby and was on loan from the Helly Nahmad Gallery located inside the hotel’s upmarket Madison Avenue building. It was also reported that, Video surveillance shows a man walking into the Madison Avenue hotel, then coming out a short time later with a bag that he wasn’t carrying earlier.” The Carlyle’s security personnel reported the painting missing at 3:30am to the 19th Precinct, a hotel spokeswoman said. “A complete investigation is now in process.”
Joseph Fernand Henri Léger was born February 4, 1881 was a French painter, sculptor, and filmmaker. In his early works he created a personal form of Cubism which he gradually modified into a more figurative, populist style. His boldly simplified treatment of modern subject matter has caused him to be regarded as a forerunner of Pop Art.
Léger was born in Argentan, Orne, Basse-Normandie. He initially trained as an architect from 1897–1899 before moving in 1900 to Paris, where he supported himself as an architectural draftsman. After military service in Versailles in 1902–1903, he enrolled at the School of Decorative Arts; he also applied to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts but was rejected. He nevertheless attended the Beaux-Arts as a non-enrolled student, spending what he described as “three empty and useless years” studying with Gérôme and others, while also studying at the Académie Julian. He began to work seriously as a painter only at the age of 25. At this point his work showed the influence of Impressionism, as seen in Le Jardin de ma mère (My Mother’s Garden) of 1905, one of the few paintings from this period that he did not later destroy. A new emphasis on drawing and geometry appeared in Léger’s work after he saw the Cézanne retrospective at the Salon d’Automne in 1907.He died August 17, 1955.
The Carlyle is a favourite haunt for aristocrats and the glitariti. France’s beautiful first lady, Carla Bruni, stayed there last year. There have been no reported arrests. The painting illustrated is a later 1924 work from a series of the same title.