Projet peinture murale signed with initials 'F. L.' (lower right) gouache, brush and India ink on paper 11 x 24 1/4in. (28 x 61cm) Executed circa 1940
PROVENANCE Anon. sale, Sotheby Parke Bernet Inc., New York, October 20, 1977, lot 164. Acquired at the above sale by the present owners.
The Comité Léger has recorded this work in their archives.
The present gouache was executed in 1945 at the end of Léger's five year stay in America. Léger was very much enamored with the United States and he was taken with the modernity of the city. Beyond the visual intrigue of a new place, it was the energy of New York and the visual panoply of architecture and urban objects that fascinated the artist-- in particular the juxtaposition of man made forms existing in close space. For Léger, who began as an apprentice to an architect in Caen, France from 1897-1899, the elements of a wheel, a gear, remnants of machines and such captured his eye throughout his career. In the present gouache, these elements are playfully mixed with the fronds of a large plant and other cast off objects the artist might have seen in the waste lands of the American city.
Léger truly believed that his art was recording a "new visual state." Through the rhythm of these watercolors and paintings, the artist translated the essence of what it felt to be surrounded by such modernity. According to Jean Leymarie, in a related gouache from this period titled American Landscape (J.Cassou and J. Leymarie, Fernand Léger; drawings and gouaches, New York, 1973, p. 153), the composition is "based on a circular rhythm and the contrast between flowers and scrap iron." The artist repeatedly turned to this visual vocabulary as a nostalgic nod to his time in New York.
Projet peinture murale is one of a number of preparatory studies, which contributed to the creation of large scale mosaic murals on the grounds of the gardens at the Léger Museum, Biot, France.
Estate of the artist.
Anon. sale, Sotheby Parke Bernet Inc., New York, October 20, 1977, lot 164.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owners.
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Impressionist and Modern Art