Artwork Detail

Les belles cyclistes (The Women Cyclists)
French, 1881–1955
Oil on canvas
29 x 36 "
Gift of Charles H. Yalem, 1963
WU 4185
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
The French artist Fernand Leger painted this scene of women cyclists while in exile in New York City during World War II. Four muscular women dressed in shorts and T-shirts rest during a bicycle outing. They stand or sit together with their arms on one another's shoulders, their abstracted and disjointed bodies intertwined with their bicycles. This is one of many works in which Leger depicted everyday leisure and sporting activities, elevating popular culture to the subject matter of art. Free-floating bands of primary color crisscross the painting, highlighting and fragmenting the figures and investing the fixed composition with a dynamic sense of movement. These brightly colored bands recall the dazzling spotlights and advertising signs of the city, suggesting the transformative mental and physical effects of color encountered in everyday life. [Permanent collection label, 2019]