Adieu New York, 1946
This major work of Léger’s, done after his return to France, represents his farewell to New York. The picture combines very diverse elements. On the one hand, there are the bands of color typical of Léger’s late work. These go back to observations of the effects of neon advertising signs on Broadway by night. As the artist himself noted, “You’re standing there talking to someone, and suddenly everything turns blue. Then that color vanishes and another comes, and everything is red, yellow. This color here, the color of the headlights, is free: it exists in space. This is the very thing I wanted to do in my pictures.” With these flat zones of color Léger combined various elements which have a three-dimensional effect, including a trimmed tree resembling a torso at the right. Further motifs float like a garland around the central, round shapes, including a banderole inscribed with the painting’s title. Cheerfulness and earnestness hold a balance in this large-format visual reminiscence.