Leisure, Homage to David
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In the painting, six figures are gathered centrally amongst a collection of bicycles and plants. They appear to be in an almost desert-like environment, with the lower half of the scene being sand, and a deep blue sky dominating the rest of the background. Four doves circle one another in a cloud. The proximity of the figures (and the clashing colours of their red, yellow, and orange outfits) make this a visually bustling piece. Works such as these, made in Leger’s later career, are praised as forerunners to the Pop Art movement with their use of dark outlines, flattened shapes, and pure colour. Far from his famous “tubist” style (originally a criticism by Louis Vauxcelles about the artist’s “tubular” cubism) which rejected naturalistic form, here Leger paints real objects and figures in stylised yet true-to-life detail. Here Leger incorporates* Neo-Classical references to the work of Jacques-Louis David (to whom the piece is dedicated) into a modern setting and in a modern style. The woman on the bicycle could be seen to mimic the pose of Napoleon on his horse in “Napoleon at the Saint-Bernard Pass”, and the sitting female figure could be a reference to “Jupiter et Antiope”.