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Epic Cubism and the Manufactured Object

LÉGER WAS AN AMBITIOUS PAINTER. Within a year of joining the Cubist orbit he had created his own highly original style. He was also an optimistic painter. Having innovated once, he hoped to do so indefinitely, and his career became one of willful and continuous change. From the start he was a painter in search of a grand manner. In consequence, the intricately modulated small-scale Cubism of Picasso and Braque was alien to Léger’s blunter nature. He sought instead a style both simpler in its mechanics and potentially more commanding in its effects: a purposefully dramatic and dynamic “epic” Cubism, a monumental public art appropriate to the scale of modern experience. It was befitting its subject, therefore, that the recent Léger retrospective at the Grand Palais in Paris was immense in scope. Over 350 items chronicled Léger’s 50-year development from Realist and Impressionist paintings

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