Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

While Léger is better known for the dynamic mechanical forms that were the hallmark of his approach to cubist painting, the sinuous biomorphic silhouette of Branch R demonstrates his later engagement with the language of surrealism. This sculpture was designed for Nelson Rockefeller, who had commissioned the artist to paint two murals for his New York apartment in the 1930s. In the murals Léger developed a theme of bucolic industrialism: modern architectural elements juxtaposed with forms derived from trees, aloe plants, and seaweed. He later elaborated these vegetal forms into sculpture, as seen here in the extremities of a bough that appears to undulate like an underwater coral. In these works, Léger shifted his interest from the manufactured object to the organic fragment, which the surrealists identified with primeval forms.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Fernand Léger, French (Argentan (Orne), France 1881 - 1955 Gif-sur-Yvette, France)
Branch R
Work Type
c. 1951
Persistent Link
Level 1, Room 1310, Modern and Contemporary Art, Surrealism
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Physical Descriptions
55.2 x 50.8 x 13 cm (21 3/4 x 20 x 5 1/8 in.)
[Fine Arts Associates, New York, New York], sold; to Joseph H. Hazen, New York, New York, gift; to Fogg Art Museum, 1962.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph H. Hazen
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art
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Publication History

Caroline A. Jones, Modern Art at Harvard: The Formation of the Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Collections of the Harvard University Art Museums (New York, NY and Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Art Museums and Abbeville Press, 1985). With an essay by John Coolidge and a preface by John M. Rosenfield. To accompany the inaugural exhibition at the Sackler Museum, Oct 21 1985 - Jan 5 1986, p. 67, fig. 59, ill.

Kristin A. Mortimer and William G. Klingelhofer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums and Abbeville Press (Cambridge and New York, 1986), no. 153, p. 135, repr.

Exhibition History

Modern Art at Harvard, Bunkamura Museum of Art, Tokyo, 07/31/1999 - 09/26/1999; Takamatsu City Museum of Art, Kagawa, 10/09/1999 - 11/14/1999; Matsuzakaya Art Museum, Nagoya, 12/02/1999 - 12/27/1999; Oita City Museum, Oita, 01/06/2000 - 02/06/2000; Museum of Modern Art, Ibaraki, Ibaraki, 02/11/2000 - 03/26/2000

Fernand Léger: Contrasts of Forms, Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/14/2007 - 06/10/2007

32Q: 1310 Surrealism, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

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