Untitled, New York, 1938
Gouache on paper
27.8 x 21.7 cm
Donated by Nadia Léger and Georges Bauquier, 1969
Fernand Léger National Museum, Inv. MNFL 96041
During his stay in New York in 1938, Léger put forward the idea of his decorating the Radio City Music Hall, one of the most prestigious towers in the new complex built by Rockefeller in the heart of Manhattan. The painter wanted to try out a new way of bringing the walls to life through projection of compositions on the theme of New York onto screens positioned on the gable above an escalator. Unfortunately, due to lack of technical means, this audacious and grandiose project, entitled “Cinematic Mural”, never came to fruition.
This preparatory drawing depicts the streets of New York, “the world’s most colossal spectacle” in the painter’s eyes. Highly coloured heterogeneous components overlap one another, forming skyscrapers – scaffolding, colossal letters, advertising hoardings, disks and ship’s funnels – so many features of the busy urban landscape, reminders of Léger’s fascination for the New World’s vertical architecture.