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Fernand Léger

French, 1881–1955

© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

The Walking Flower, 1951

26 1/2 x 20 1/2 x 15 inches (67.3 x 52.1 x 38.1 cm)
Gift of Seymour H. Knox, Jr., 1969

Originally trained as an architectural draftsman, Fernand Léger moved to Paris in 1909. After his experiences in the Engineer Corps of the French Army during World War I, his painting style was influenced both by modern styles such as Cubism, and by his interest in machinery and an industrial utopian society. Léger became known for his distinctive paintings using a polished-looking, machine-like tubular treatment of all forms, including the human figure. Léger moved to the United States during World War II, but returned to France in 1945, and concentrated on his lifelong effort to integrate architecture, painting, and sculpture. From that point on, he primarily created monumental art, stained glass, mosaics, and murals. 

The Walking Flower is one of only a few freestanding sculptures that Léger made during his career. It was created in Biot, France, where he moved in 1949 and began working in ceramics. The cheerful-looking flower has six petals, and is shown poised in mid-stride on two of them, provoking debate as to which of the other four petals might be arms and head. The sculpture is painted with five glazes on the front—yellow, red-orange, green, black, and off-white. The design on the back is reduced to a similar pattern in black and off-white only.  

Related Lesson Plan

Personified Sculpture (For Grades K–8)