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Playing cards and clay pipes had been common elements in Cubist still life paintings of the period circa 1910-14. They introduced a measure of easy legibility, as well as a note of simple domesticity, into these 'difficult' works. In incorporating a playing card and pipe in this painting Léger seems to have been alluding to the earlier avant-garde movement. However, he chose to combine them with types of imagery that were antithetical to Cubism: organic nature (the leaves) and abstraction (the geometric and irregular shapes). In this period he was concerned above all with synthesising different styles of contemporary modernist painting.

August 2004