Fernand Leger: Five Themes and Variations

Fernand Leger: Five Themes and Variations

Fernand Leger: Five Themes and Variations

Fernand Leger: Five Themes and Variations

Excerpt

If ever one may speak of a culminating work, a summing-up of a life- long artistic striving, an état définitif, it is of the GREAT PARADE by Fernand Léger.

Within this monumental canvas completed by the seventy-three year old artist in 1954, are the insight and the experience, the skill and the knowledge, the perfection of form and the force of expression, evolved through countless preparatory and intermediary stages, through a long and steadily growing creative development. The thirty-six variants on view, executed in all sizes, media and states of completion, are not more than perhaps one-half of the total number of extant versions that bear direct reference to the theme of the GREAT PARADE. Also traceable in the large canvas are the essences, both formal and thematic, of earlier cycles, the COUNTRY OUTING, the CONSTRUCTORS, the CYCLISTS, the DIVERS, and others, that engaged Léger in his late period, from 1940 when he left France for the United States to 1955 when he died in the French town of Gif-sur-Yvette.

That each of these cycles is based on a central motif linked to a specific plastic idea, and that the final state of each is the outcome of a determined search for the perfect solution should become clear from the contemplation of the fragments in their relationship to the final work. FIVE THEMES AND VARIATIONS then, is presented to visitors of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum as evidence of Fernand Léger's late and significant achievement -- one that on a comparable scope has not been seen before on this side of the Atlantic.

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