Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Divers, Blue and Black

Artist:
Fernand Léger (French, Argentan 1881–1955 Gif-sur-Yvette)
Date:
1942–43
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
66 1/4 × 50 1/2 in. (168.3 × 128.3 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, 1998
Accession Number:
1999.363.37
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 906
Entangled figures plunge into broad swatches of color like swimmers in a crowded pool. The inspiration for "Divers" dates to 1940, while Léger was in Marseille awaiting passage to the United States, where he would stay until the end of World War II. Léger's interest in the theme of the swimming pool lasted beyond his sojourn in America and resulted in a series of about twenty-five works.
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right): 42–43/ F. LEGER
(verso): Plongeurs en Noir et bleu/ F. Léger–42–43
the artist, New York (sold to Valentine); [Valentine Gallery, New York, in 1945]; [Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, until 1957; sold on February 25, 1957, for $25,000, to Gelman]; Mr. and Mrs. Jacques Gelman, Mexico City and New York (1957–his d. 1986); Natasha Gelman, Mexico City and New York (1986–d. 1998; her bequest to MMA)

New York. Whitney Museum of American Art. "European Artists in America," March 13–April 11, 1945, no. 65 (as "Plongeurs en noir et bleu").

New York. World House Galleries. "The Struggle for New Form," January 22–February 23, 1957, no. 42 (as "Plongeurs en Noir et Bleu," lent by the Sidney Janis Gallery).

New York. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. "Fernand Léger: Five Themes and Variations," February 28–April 29, 1962, no. 19 (as "The Blue and Black Divers [Plongeurs en noir et bleu]," lent by Mr. and Mrs. Jacques Gelman, Mexico, D. F.).

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Twentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection," December 12, 1989–April 1, 1990, unnumbered cat. (p. 217).

London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Twentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection," April 19–July 15, 1990, unnumbered cat.

Mexico City. Centro Cultural Arte Contemporáneo. "La Colección de Pintura Mexicana de Jacques y Natasha Gelman," June 23–October 11, 1992, not in catalogue.

Martigny. Fondation Pierre Gianadda. "De Matisse à Picasso: Collection Jacques et Natasha Gelman," June 18–November 1, 1994, unnumbered cat. (p. 241).

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Painters in Paris: 1895–1950," March 8–December 31, 2000, extended to January 14, 2001, unnumbered cat. (p. 114; as "Divers [Blue and Black]").

Daniel Robbins in Fernand Léger: Five Themes and Variations. Exh. cat., Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. New York, 1962, pp. 19, 21, no. 19, ill. p. 34, notes that the "Divers" series was inspired by Léger's witnessing young men diving into the Mediterranean in 1940.

Roberta Bernstein. "Jasper Johns and the Figure: Part One: Body Imprints." Arts Magazine 52 (October 1977), pp. 143–44, fig. 11, calls it "Blue and Black Divers"; suggests that Johns' monumental "Diver" (1962; Collection Norman and Irma Braman) was influenced by Léger's "Diver" series, noting similarities with this picture.

Sabine Rewald in Twentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. Ed. William S. Lieberman. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, pp. 216–17, 303, ill. (color and bw), reprints Léger's 1954 description of a crowded swimming pool in America as inspiration for the "Divers" series of about twenty-five paintings, watercolors, gouaches, and drawings.

William S. Lieberman in Twentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. Ed. William S. Lieberman. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, p. 16.

Gary Tinterow in Twentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. Ed. William S. Lieberman. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, p. 35.

Georges Bauquier, assisté de Irus Hansma, Claude Lefebvre du Preÿ, and Nelly Maillard. Fernand Léger: Catalogue raisonné. Vol. 6, 1938–1943. Paris, 1998, pp. 218–19, no. 1113, ill. (color), as "Les Plongeurs en noir et bleu".

William S. Lieberman. "Donation Gelman: l'École de Paris au Metropolitan." Connaissance des arts no. 554 (October 1998), p. 106, calls it "Plongeurs, bleu et noir".



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