While the present work is comprised of almost entirely geometric forms, a small standing female figure appears at the right of the composition with her arm raised above her head. This figure is a clear reference to a recurrent silhouette which appeared in many of Le Corbusier’s buildings and paintings known as the Modulor Man. Often depicted with one arm raised as in the present work, Le Corbusier’s Modulor Man was the mascot of his anthropometric scale of proportions. Le Corbusier developed the Modulor as a universal system of proportions developed as a visual bridge between the imperial and the metric systems. The Modulor system is based on the height of a man with his arm raised and was developed in attempt to discover and utilize the mathematical proportions of the human body to improve the appearance and function of architecture.
Writing about Léger's oil paintings from 1924-27, Christopher Green commented: "They are the product of a pictorial idea of the figure or object whose brutal 'plastic' simplicity is personal, but which is the product of an approach to the realities of modern life indelibly tinged with the idealism of L'Esprit Nouveau, an approach which remains stubbornly 'realist' but whose highly selective vision of the world picks out the most useful, the most geometrically 'pure', the most precisely finished of its manufactures, and subjects even the nude or the figurative fragment to the mass-production yet 'classical' values thus extracted. And in their grand, harmonious architecture with its clear articulation of spatial incident, these paintings are at the same time the product of an international avant-garde....Their assurance and the conviction they carry is founded on more than fifteen years of faith in what was then most modern about the industrial world, of openness to what was most new in the avant-garde and of experiment in book illustration, theatre and film as well as in painting" (C. Green, Léger and the Avant-garde, New Haven, 1976, p. 310).
The present work is distinguished by its important early provenance. Composition was acquired directly from the artist’s dealer, Léonce Rosenberg, a decade following its completion by Alfred Barr, the esteemed American art historian and the first director of The Museum of Modern Art in New York. Barr acquired the work for his close friend and collector, Helen Lansdowne Resor the revolutionary American advertising executive and active participant in the suffrage movement.
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