Ville Nocturne

by Amedee Ozenfant


DIMENSIONS: 36.2 x 28.7 inches (92 x 73 cm)
SIGNATURE: Signed ‘Ozenfant’ (lower right)
MEDIUM: Oil on canvas



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    Amédée Ozenfant was a French cubist painter and writer. Together with Charles-Edouard Jeanneret (later known as Le Corbusier), he founded the Purist movement.

    Ezra & Cecile Zilka, New York

    Private collection, London

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    Ozenfant was born into a bourgeois family in Saint-Quentin Aisne (1886) and was educated at Dominican colleges in Saint-Sébastien. After completing his education, he returned to Saint-Quentin and began painting in watercolour and pastels.  He continued his studies with various courses in drawing and decorative arts from 1904 onwards. By 1908 he was exhibiting at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts and Salon d’Automne.

    Between 1909 and and 1913 he travelled to Russia, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands, attending lectures at the College de France in Paris. By 1915 in collaboration with the French poets, painters and playwrights Max Jacob and Guillaume Apollinaire he founded the magazine L’Elan which he edited until 1916 when his theories of purism began to develop. Just a year later in 1917 Ozenfant exhibited in the first purist exhibition at the Galerie Thomas in Paris and published a book on the subject.

    Following a second purist exhibition in 1921 at Galerie Druet, Paris, where Ozenfant exhibited again he opened Academie Moderne. This was a free studio in Paris in conjunction with Fernand Léger, where they both taught with Aleksandra Ekster and Marie Laurencin. In 1925 and 1928 he published further his fully expounded theories of purism in .

    Later, he founded his own atelier ‘l’Académie Ozenfant’ and in 1936 moved to London where he opened Ozenfant Academy of Fine Arts. Two years later he moved to New York.

    In the early Purist manifestoes, colour was deemed secondary to form, and this could be seen in the careful placing of colour to reinforce discrete architectural elements by Le Corbusier in his work of the mid-1920s. However, by the time he was in England, Ozenfant had refined his ideas about colour and outlined many of these in the six articles on the subject that he wrote for the Architectural Review. Colour was now regarded as an essential element of architecture, rather than something considered by the architect while his work was being erected. Ozenfant believed that colour always modifies the form of the building and should receive more careful attention.

    The Ozenfant School of Fine Arts in New York was in operation from 1939 until 1955. Ozenfant became a US citizen in 1944. He taught and lectured widely in the United States until 1955, when he returned to France, where he was renaturalized in 1953. He remained there for the rest of his life and died in Cannes in 1966.

    Today work by Ozenfant is held by The Guggenheim Museum (New York City), the Hermitage Museum, the Honolulu Museum of Art, Kunstmuseum Basel (Switzerland), the Louvre, the Museum of Modern Art (New York City), Muzeum Sztuki (Lodz, Poland), the National Gallery of Australia (Canberra), the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Tate Gallery (London) and the Walker Art Center (Minnesota) among other public collections.

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