A recurring theme in Marc Chagall’s work, the circus scene depicted in 'Les Cyclistes' can be linked to works present in major collections around the world, such as 'The Dance and the Circus' and 'The Blue Circus' both at the Tate.
In this lithograph, Chagall documents the movement of the bicycle wheels, and their relationship to the circular space to which they are confined. On the bicycle, itself a study on equilibrium, sits an acrobat, who is caught balancing two other performers on his back.
The surreal stunt represents an episode, which, both for its oneiric aspect and for its unreality, constitutes a primal source of inspiration for Chagall, who is captivated by the framing of a certain instant in the act.
Adopting unusual perspectives, Chagall evokes images of moving figures in an imaginary space. Indeed, the lack of a canonical order evokes a dream-like state.