Léger was a great proponent of public art, and throughout his career he executed a number of murals, large-scale mosaics and outdoor sculpture. Discussing his monumental works in the context of the rise of public art in the period following the World War II, Pierre Descargues wrote: "Monumental art grew out of the nakedness of the new style of architecture. When Léger saw this, he wrote: 'The walls need to be exalted, the buildings and the city need to be given a joyful face. The job calls for a threesome: a wall, an architect and an artist... His desire for a public oeuvre grew out of his determination to transmit an art form stripped of symbols and emblems, devoid of all taint of myth and ideology... Léger could free himself of everything except his duty to painting" (Pierre Descargues, "The Monumental Art of Fernand Léger," in Yvonne Brunhammer, Fernand Léger: The Monumental Art, Milan, 2005, pp. 12-17).
During the final years of his life, Léger’s art oscillated between figurative works, such as the celebrated La Partie de campagne and Les Constructeurs, and fully abstract compositions such as the present work. Focusing on the pictorial elements of color and form, the overlapping elements of Composition murale sur fond jaune are painted in strong, unmodulated colors, delineated in black and silhouetted against a flat monochrome background. According to Léger, it is the primary colors, combined with black and white, that express the reality of the medium of painting. Rather than imitating nature, the artist was interested in exploring the language of painting in its fullest and purest form, thus reducing his vocabulary to the essential pictorial elements. As a result, Léger’s composition defies a sense of gravity and transcends the earth-bound nature of a traditional work of art.
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