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Fernand Léger

/Works and biography

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Men in the City (Les Hommes dans la ville), 1919
Oil on canvas, 145.7 x 113.5 cm
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice 76.2553 PG 21
© Fernand Léger, by SIAE 2008


Fernand Léger temporarily abandoned representational depiction in his Contrast of Forms series of 1913–14. When he returned from the front in 1917 and resumed painting, he reintroduced recognizable imagery in his work. Responsive to the technological advances and assertive advertising that followed World War I, he embarked on his “mechanical” period with works such as Men in the City. In the urban themes of this period the human figure becomes as de-individualized and mechanized as the environment it occupies. Léger is able to express the rhythmic energy of contemporary life by finding its pictorial equivalent. Form, color, and shape are considered primarily for their plastic values and are given equal emphasis. They confront one another in a multitude of relations, creating single images that capture simultaneous sensations. Léger’s simple, varied, and clear pictorial elements, like ideal machines, efficiently produce effects of maximum power.

credits: Hangar Design Group