The American landscape
The Two handlebars, 1945
Oil on canvas
50.7 x 40.5 cm
Donated by Nadia Léger and Georges Bauquier, 1969
Musée national Fernand Léger Inv. MNFL 98011
Often using the close-up effect for his pictorial compositions – just like in film-making, Léger concentrates on the plastic beauty in an object’s detail.
With the desertification of the American countryside in 1943, the painter unearthed new discoveries: broken wheels, ploughshares or wire meshes abandoned in the encroaching nature. The two isolated handlebars, reframed and stylised beyond their formal depiction, transpose a whole host of suggestions on the canvas. Magnified by colour and projected forward by a series of circular outlines, the handlebars bring the entire painting to life, expressing the new but very real plastic fact of a mechanical component throbbing in the sunlight.