The Circus - Cirque

Artist’s Name
Author’s Name
Fernard Léger (1881-1995)
Fernard Léger (1881-1995)
1950, Paris
Printed in one volume, size 42 x 32,5 cm.
Manuscript of Fernard Léger
42 original lithographs and 34 coloured original lithographs
Published on ‘vélin d’ Arches’ paper:
  • 280 copies, numbered 1-280
  • 20 copies, off the market, numbered I-XX
The French painter, Fernard Léger, gave his personal interpretation of The Circus, creating a composition of manuscripts and illustrations. The effect that this work had was particularly important, not only for the artist himself, but also for the development of modern art. In this book, the artist blends his own memories with reality, through his personal perspective. Léger gives the opportunity to a wider public to come closer to the ideas he believes in and stands for. Thus, he succeeds in one of his basic targets: to create art that can be approached by everybody. He passes on all his ideas and feelings through a swirl of images; these images combine feelings of wonder and freedom, the excitement of a celebration and an escape to the surreal.

The Circus of Léger depicts a joyful event, a spectacle, as there is in the imagination of every child that impatiently waits to meet a world that knows no bounds. This vibrant world, its magic and enthusiasm, is conveyed through the vivid colors and the rich black lines of the painter. All his images show the rhythm and the movement of the circus’ people (acrobats, cyclists, dancers and animals) as well as of nature itself and its laws. The acrobat is freed from gravity and the dancer is not attached to the ground any more; both presenting choreography of liberated bodies. A curve, many times, becomes a circle in order to express the artists’ beliefs concerning life. For Léger, the circus and the circus’ images are the perfect means to declare his belief; that in life everything goes around something else, this being either the spectator or the performer of a circus, or even the viewer of these images.