PURISM

Dates: 1918-1925

Origin: France

Key Artists: Fernand Léger, Amédée Ozenfant

a movement launched in France in 1918 with the book and exhibition Après le Cubisme. Its authors, the painter Amédée Ozenfant and painter and architect Le Corbusier, saw Cubism as having failed to arrive at its logical conclusions, which they aimed to deliver. Their ambitious project for the construction of a co-operative epoch of order was highly classical and puritanical in tone. Clarity and objectivity were their theme, and they championed the intellect, precision, and the beauty of functional efficiency. However, despite a revolutionary fervour in their proclamations they rejected the extremism of the comparable movements, including De Stijl and Constructivism. They cast their functionalism in humanist terms and it was in this light that their still lifes depicted simple objects such as glasses and bottles, which they felt acted in harmony with man (these they termed ‘objet types’). They also saw paintings as important in terms of utility, in fulfilling a basic human need for art which must appeal to the senses. However, colour was always subordinated to line to safeguard the integrity of forms, which retain a clarity lacking in Cubist fragmentation. It was only effectively through Le Corbusier’s architecture that the movement’s aims gained international recognition. The movement lasted seven years (1918–25), its demise coinciding with that of its journal, L’Esprit nouveau.

Falconer, Morgan. “Purism.” The Oxford Companion to Western Art. Ed. Hugh Brigstocke. Oxford Art Online. 12 Mar. 2010 <http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/opr/t118/e2161&gt;

Amédée Ozenfant

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