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The Great Parade with red background

1953
The Great Parade with red background
1953    
Oil on canvas
114.5 x 156.2 cm
Donated by Nadia Léger and Georges Bauquier
Musée national Fernand Léger, Biot
MNFL 96006

On either side of the letter C, nine figures (clowns, acrobats, riders and animals) seem to pose for the photographer. Outlined in black and breaking away in a block floating on a red background, they form a fresco that is at once synthetic and swirling, condensing Fernand Léger’s pictorial theory. Committed to a direct art accessible to all, the artist turned away from his Cubist series of contrasting forms upon his return from the war in 1918, thenceforth illustrating contemporary myths. Until his death, his work thus presented the theme of popular leisure such as cyclists or shows, and especially the circus. As was his wont, the artist produced several versions – including this highly graphical one – before completing the final piece which is now on display at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
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