Animated Landscape

Fernand Léger, French, 1881 - 1955

Geography:
Made in France, Europe

Date:
1924

Medium:
Oil on canvas

Dimensions:
19 1/2 x 25 5/8 inches (49.5 x 65.1 cm)

Copyright:
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Curatorial Department:
Modern Art

* Gallery 167a, Modern and Contemporary Art, first floor

Accession Number:
1950-63-1

Credit Line:
Gift of Bernard Davis, 1950

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Label:
In the early 1920s, Fernand Léger began to integrate more readily identifiable human figures into his compositions, focusing particularly on the relationship between people and their modern, mechanized environment. Painted after a trip to Venice in the summer of 1924, Animated Landscape depicts the seated artist on the left and the standing figure of his dealer, Léonce Rosenberg, proprietor of the Galerie de l'Effort Moderne in Paris, on the right. Sporting hats and suits, the two men are presented as simplified, schematized figures amidst a dense city scene composed of rigid geometric elements, including a boat and a footbridge, which the artist arranged to create a sense of receding space.

Additional information:
  • PublicationMasterpieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Impressionism and Modern Art

    In the 1920s, Fernand Léger moved away from abstraction and began to integrate more readily identifiable the human figures into his compositions, focusing particularly on the relationship between people and their modern, mechanized environment. Although the artist continued to be greatly influenced by the formal pictorial devices of the Cubists and the Purists, he chose to paint cityscapes rather than still lifes. He created Animated Landscape just after returning to France from a trip to Italy with his dealer, Léonce Rosenberg, proprietor of the Galerie de l'Effort Moderne in Paris. Rendered in graphically bold colors--predominantly red, black, and white--the painting shows the artist (most likely on the left) and his dealer, wearing suits and hats, near a canal in Venice. The simplified, schematized figures, with their massive, tubular forms, stand amid a dense city scene composed of rigid geometric elements arranged to create a sense of receding space. This painting exemplifies the easily legible style of Léger's work from the early 1920s and anticipates the increasing realism of his later paintings. Emily Hage, from Masterpieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Impressionism and Modern Art (2007), p. 130.

Provenance

With Léonce Rosenberg, Galerie de l'Effort Moderne, Paris, acquired from the artist [1]. Bernard Davis, La France Art Institute, Philadelphia, by 1934 and probably as early as 1933 [2]; gift to PMA, 1950. 1. Georges Bauquier, Fernand Léger: catalogue raisonné, 1920-1924, 1992, no. 386. Rosenberg, who is said to be the figure depicted on the right, was Léger's dealer at the time (Léger signed a contract with him in 1918). The painting was reproduced in Rosenberg's Bulletin de l'Effort Moderne, no. 10, December 1924. 2. The 1933 Cahiers d'Art Léger special issue reproduces this painting with no owner attribution, but Davis' collection is listed at the back of the issue as one of the collections possessing works by Léger. Davis definitely owned the painting by 1934, when he lent it to the PMA's exhibition "Collection of the La France Art Institute (The Bernard Davis Collection)," March 17-April 18, 1934. Bernard Davis, owner of La France Industries textile mills in Philadelphia, began forming his extensive collection of modern art around 1919, much of it acquired in Paris. He exhibited it at the galleries of the La France Art Institute art school, founded 1923, of which he served as president (see American Art Annual 1923-1937; introduction to Freeman sale catalogue; and R. Sturgis Ingersoll, Henry McCarter, Cambridge, MA, 1944, p. 74).


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