Front Cover - Ferdinand Leger: Spare Time Activities – Homage to Louis David 1948
Ferdimd Leger in his New York studio 1942
It was during the war of 1914, in the trenches, that he meets "people" and decides "to be very close to them while remaining demanding of myself and my art." He wants to be a "witness to his times." Seeing in the machine its dynamic necessity, he transcribes the optimistic images of our technological - and fraternal - civilization into a bold, clear, and joyful language….
He is a member of the Communist party, but avoids the errors of Socialist Realism. His style is perfected. His theory of the figure-object, fashioned during the 1930s, prevents him from falling into pathos and laboring sentimentalism.
This is shown, among other paintings, in Leger's Homage to David. Only he could express "paid vacation" so joyfully; the lone exception may be Cartier-Bresson, with his 1936 photos of the Popular Front. Leger is the only one in the whole history of art who could draw with the callused hand of a laborer.
Art of the 20th Century p 523