DescriptionFernand Léger (1881-1955)
Étude pour la Grande Parade, 1952
Gouache and ink on paper
12-1/2 x 17 inches (31.8 x 43.2 cm) (sheet)
Initialed and dated lower right: FL. 52
Private collection, acquired from the above.
This lot is accompanied by photo-certificate of authenticity signed by Madame Irus Hansma, dated November 16, 2015, as well as a slide of the work. This work will be included in the Répertoire des oeuvres sur papier de Fernand Léger, which is being prepared by Madame Irus Hansma.
In the 1940s, Fernand Léger returned to one of his favorite subjects since childhood, the circus, a theme that could reach an audience outside the limited circle of connoisseurs familiar with fine art. The circus was an open arena in which all viewers could delight in the animal acts, clowns, and trapeze artists, regardless of age, background, or beliefs. As Peter de Francia notes: "The subject of acrobats, circuses, of the grouping together of those themes of leisure which Leger had always envisaged as the tangible symbols of man's freedom are to be found in the very beginning of his work and throughout his paintings" (Peter de Francia, Fernand Leger, New Haven & London, 1983, p. 248).
The present work, Étude pour la Grande Parade, is one of many preliminary studies for a mural-sized painting executed in 1954, one year before Leger's death. In this work, we witness Leger's creative process: minute technical details are executed in pencil then erased or redrawn in ink. The study is a visual record of his thought process translated onto paper. While Léger reduces the human form and its surrounding objects to their most basic elements, emphasis is placed on the interaction among the figures in the parade.
Reflecting his use of geometry, his bold, black lines articulate a juxtaposition of mechanical elements with natural forms, thus displaying the artist's important "law of contrasts." As Robert Herbert notes, "Léger's geometry is so fundamental to his conception of art and society that, like his theory of contrasts, it permeates all aspects of his painting. 'A picture organized, orchestrated, like a musical score, has geometric necessities exactly the same as those of every objective human creation.'" (Robert L. Herbert, From Millet to Léger, New Haven, 2002, p. 135).
Estimate: $100,000 - $150,000.
Not mounted; not framed. Overall slight paper discoloration, with some foxing and a few spots of soiling noticeable in the lower right corner; there is some restoration visible along the edges, notably along the top and bottom, as well as a few minute tears along the extreme sheet edges.
*Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.
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