Green Angel, 1990
Léger’s building-block compositions were style-shaping. When we look at his Les grands plongeurs noirs alongside Johns’s Green Angel, we can see that both contain a “stack” of silhouettes or colored contours. In the Léger these represent divers; in the Johns, they are shapes of uncertain origin that resemble the superimposed contours of maps of various countries. Once again, the enormous potential of Léger’s basic conception is revealed – the idea of virtually “mounting” the elements of a painting one after another on the surface. In this way, the structure of the composition becomes a tangible, central theme of the picture. This idea opened new possibilities to art, which found a great echo especially in the U.S. In a direct comparison, Léger’s work appears to be a forerunner of Johns’s. Johns, by the way, has never revealed the meaning of the mysterious shapes in Green Angel. At any rate, it is a fair guess that they don’t represent divers.