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Fernand Léger made this unusual artist’s book towards the end of his life. He did not use reproductions of existing works, but conceived and developed the theme and prints especially for the project. Léger created both the 83 prints – of which 34 are in color and 49 in black-and-white, and the text. His steady line, distinct areas of color and elegant penmanship lent themselves particularly well to lithography. The actual printing took place in close collaboration with the celebrated printing company Mourlot Frères of Paris. In Cirque, Léger explores the theme of the circus and rural life, drawing parallels between cyclists in the country (Léger himself) and the acrobats performing in the circus. Léger exploits spherical shapes and curves to portray both the circus and the natural world. The book is considered Léger’s artistic legacy. It was published in 1950 by Tériade Editeur of Paris, a publishing house noted for releasing extraordinary books and prints. Only 280 copies of the book were produced.
c/o Pictoright Amsterdam/Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam



Artists' books

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42.2 x 64.2 x 4cm.


lithographs on paper

Object number

KBA 481