- Fernand Léger
- Deux figures et une fleur
- Signed F. Léger and dated 49 (lower right); signed F. Léger, dated 49 and titled on the reverse
- Oil on canvas
Galerie Moos, Toronto
Equinox Gallery, Vancouver (acquired from the above on November 28, 1980)
Private Collection, Toronto
Daniel Varenne, Switzerland
Thomas Ammann Fine Art, Zurich
Private Collection, New York (1987)
Galerie Cazeau-Béraudière, Paris
Acquired from the above in 2004
Venice, XXVI Biennale di Venezia (French Pavilion), 1952, no. 275
Lyon, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Fernand Léger, 1955, no. 68, illustrated in color in the catalogue
Georges Bauquier, Fernand Léger, Catalogue Raisonné, 1949-1951, no. 1317, illustrated in color p. 15
“Truth in painting is color at its fullest: red, black, yellow.”' Léger believed, and his philosophy informed the color palette for the present work. The figures themselves are rendered in a pure white, made all the more powerful by its contrast with the richly saturated background of red and the unmodulated yellow and green of their clothing. While Léger often positioned his figures in the mid to near distance within the space of the picture, he brought the women and the flower in this composition so close to the picture plane that their dimensions become monumental. The canvas itself cannot even contain the figures who are cropped by its edges.
Léger’s figures are mostly characterized by their volumetric treatment, the frequent lack of shading and their nearly expressionless faces. While the artist was sensitive to the life of the common man/woman, particularly the workers of the day, he also treated the bodies like a lexicon of forms integrated into the design of the composition. “As long as the human body is considered a sentimental or expressive clue in painting, no evolution in pictures of people will be possible. Its development has been hindered by the domination of the subject over the ages… If the person, the face, and the human body become objects, the modern artist will be offered considerable freedom” (Fernand Leger, "The Human Body Considered as an Object,” 1945, reprinted in Charles Harrison & Paul Wood, Art in Theory, 1900-1990, Cornwall, 1993, p. 640).
Deux figures et une fleur exemplifies Léger's firm commitment to neoclassical figuration and his fascination with the expressive potential of color, the two defining stylistic factors of his work during the last decade of his life. Here he has rendered the pictorial elements with a sharp clarity that is characteristic of his mature work. The colors, in keeping with his works of this period, are fully saturated, voluminous and substantial.