Femmes aux perroquets, Léger’s ode to painting as assemblage, is a premiere example of the artist’s innovation of the traditional mural. The vigor of the vivid partial glazing, outlined in thick black contours, generates an ordered tension between the second and third dimensions as the subjects advance forth from the relief.
Léger stated, “All the spectacular, sentimental or dramatic manifestations of life are dominated by the laws of contrast” (quoted in E.F. Fry, ed., Fernand Léger, Functions of Painting, New York, 1973, pp. 132-133). The artist’s preoccupation with visual contrasts manifests itself in his continued development of the perroquet theme in multiple mediums. The dynamic motif of the full-winged parrot nestled among gazing women exemplifies Léger’s post-war call to figural representation and gestured movement. This large-scale mural harkens back to Composition aux perroquets, 1935-1939 (Bauquier, no. 881), Léger’s first attempt to depict this favored subject matter. The present work embodies Léger’s mastery in uniting the architectonic aesthetic of his pre-war abstraction with the vibrant sculptural narration of the modern avant-garde.
During the artist’s final years, Léger participated in a newfound “outdoors” reality with his large-scale tableaux. He created monumental narratives utilizing “pure tones and grouping of forms.” The demonstrated pictorial contradiction and visual intensity in this masterwork typifies what the artist deemed to be “the solution for the big picture” (quoted in C. Lanchner, Fernand Léger, exh. cat., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1998, p. 145).