The birth of Pop Art

Fernand Léger returned to France in December 1945 after a five year exile in the United States.  Briefly before his departure, he sent to Jean-Richard Bloch a telegram informing him of his enrollment in the French Communist Party.

Léger has a wealth of keepsakes from his stay in the United States: in his luggage 57 canvases and 125 works on paper, of which many are early stages of great compositions, such as La Partie de Campagne which is a continuation of the Cyclistes, a recurrent theme during his American years.

In Paris, he painted Adieu New York. This is a true break: his membership in the Communist Party prevented him in the McCarthy times from obtaining a visa. He will never return to the United States.

In any event, it is the American artists who come to him: Ellsworth Kelly, Sam Francis and Kenneth Nolan will spend time in his academy. The master speaks perfect English.

This may seem paradoxical: in hindsight, one can suppose that his membership results less from ideological convictions then from Nadia Léger, an ardent communist who wants to bring the master ino the post-war intellectual trends.

Fernand Léger is a profoundly generous and sensitive person. His art aims to be popular and accessible to all. He has a genuine social interest, aspiring to share culture and loyal friendship. His deep roots in the country in his property in Lisores which is a haven of inspiration and joyous friendship (Blaise Cendras, the brothers Fratellini, Le Corbusier, Daniel Wallard…) keep him from being caught in an ideological trap. He always refused to produce propaganda art.

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