After his groundbreaking investigations of complex forms and patterns in the paintings of his Cubist years—paintings such as the 1920 Composition—Léger moved towards a style of greater generalization and simplicity. In the 1920s and 1930s, he experimented with painting large-scale images of the human body, as well as almost abstract still lifes and architectural compositions. Profoundly interested in modern technology, Léger sought to bring art to the masses through whatever means he could, including the production of films. By the end of the 1930s, he had undertaken a number of important projects for public art, including a mural for an important exhibition of modern art and industry held in Paris in 1937.
Léger spent the years of World War II in the United States, where his paintings took on a new character. Bold patches of color were suspended within a framework of black and white imagery, the colors deliberately flat and bright: yellow, red, blue, plus orange and green. Back in France after the war, the artist expanded his interest in public art, embracing new media—mosaics, textiles, and stained glass among them.
He visited the town of Biot, near Nice, where a former student was in charge of ceramic works. Léger began to work in ceramic sculpture, first creating murals in low relief but soon embracing the idea of a fully round sculptural form. Walking Flower was one of the products of this burst of creativity, boldly colored on one face, black and white on the other, a form from nature imbued with a human spirit, a spirit of humor, of play, and of joyfulness.
Acquired by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, gift of The Burnett Foundation, 2011.