An artists' cinema

An artists' cinema

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Title: Poster project for Marcel L'Herbier's film "L'Inhumaine".

Author : LEGER Fernand (1881 - 1955)

Creation date : 1923

Date shown: 1923

Dimensions: Height 25 - Width 32.2

Technique and other indications: Ink (drawing), gouache, graphite, paper (material).

Storage location: Fernand Léger National Museum website

Contact copyright: © ADAGP, © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot

Picture reference: 02-001173 / MNFL96001

Poster project for Marcel L'Herbier's film "L'Inhumaine".

© ADAGP, Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot

Publication date: February 2008

Historical context

Cubist decor

The painter Fernand Léger, linked to the Cubist movement, established close links with the cinema after the 1914-1918 war. First by composing the movie posters Wheel (1922) by Abel Gance, and The Inhuman (1924) by Marcel L’Herbier, then by creating specific sets for this last film, before co-directing with the American Dudley Murphy (and with the technical collaboration of Man Ray) an experimental short film, Mechanical ballet (1924), which aims to celebrate the rapid pace of modern life using novel methods and angles of view.

Image Analysis

Black and white sketch

This black and white drawing, from 1923, is a sketch by Fernand Léger for one of the film posters The Inhuman. The title appears superimposed, in the shape of a staircase, on a composition with very geometric shapes. To capture the intensity of modern life and its mechanization, one of the main themes of the film, Léger, as in most of the paintings he produced during this period, incorporates elements of the urban and industrial world. In fact, in this poster project, we find objects, signs, plastic forms, geometric patterns chosen, assembled and ordered to constitute an aesthetic close to abstraction. A set of straight, oblique, curved lines, which visually expresses the mechanization, technological modernism and machines that engineer / inventor Norsen uses for his scientific experiments.


A poster as a collage

The film The Inhuman, undertaken by Marcel L'Herbier in 1923 on a proposal by the opera singer Georgette Leblanc, is in a way the trailer for the decorative arts exhibition to be held in Paris in 1925. It aims to highlight the news French artistic trends. It is also a retrospective application of Canudo's theories of cinema as a synthesis of the arts. Several well-known artists (Robert Mallet-Stevens, Darius Milhaud, Claude Autant-Lara, Alberto Cavalcanti, Paul Poiret) participate as designers of sets, costumes or furniture. This is how the painter Fernand Léger designs and manufactures the interior of the laboratory of the young scientist Einer Norsen played by Jaque Catelain. At the same time, he draws one of the film posters, the model of which we see here, which, in his own way, translates the fragmentary and rhythmic visions of the images shot by L’Herbier.

  • cinema
  • futurism
  • modernism
  • engineer


Marcel L’HERBIERDizzyParis, Belfond, 1979. Christmas BURCHMarcel L’HerbierParis, Seghers, 1973.Emmanuelle TOULET (dir.)Cinema at the rendezvous of the arts.France 1920s and 1930sParis, National Library of France, 1995. Laurent VÉRAY (dir.)Marcel L’Herbier: the art of cinemaParis, AFRHC editions, 2007.

To cite this article

Laurent VÉRAY, "An artists' cinema"

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