Fernand Léger (1881 – 1955) was born in 1881 in Argentan, France. After an apprenticeship with an architect in Caen between 1897 to 1899, Léger settled in Paris in 1900 and supported himself as an architectural draftsman. He was refused entrance to the École des Beaux-Arts but nevertheless attended classes there beginning in 1903; he also studied at the Académie Julian.
Léger’s earliest-known works, which date from 1905, were primarily influenced by Impressionism.
|1905 My Mother's Garden oil on canvas 46 x 38 cm|
Léger served in the military from 1914 to 1917. His “mechanical” period, in which figures and objects are characterised by tubular, machinelike forms, began in 1917. During the early 1920s he collaborated with the writer Blaise Cendrars on films and designed sets and costumes for performances by Rolf de Maré’s Ballets Suédois; in 1924 he completed his first film, Ballet mécanique, which was neither abstract nor narrative but a series of seemingly unrelated images (a woman’s teeth and lips, machines, ordinary objects, and routine human activities).
Léger opened an atelier with Amédée Ozenfant in 1924 and in 1925 presented his first murals at Le Corbusier’s Pavillon de l’Esprit Nouveau at the Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs. In 1931 he visited the United States for the first time. In 1935 the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Art Institute of Chicago presented an exhibition of his work. Léger lived in the United States from 1940 to 1945 but returned to France after the war. In the decade before his death, Léger’s wide-ranging projects included book illustrations, monumental figure paintings and murals, stained-glass windows, mosaics, polychrome ceramic sculptures, and set and costume designs. In 1955 he won the Grand Prize at the São Paulo Bienal. Léger died on August 17 of that year at his home in Gif-sur-Yvette, France. The Musée Fernand Léger was inaugurated in 1960 in Biot, France.
|1909-10 Nudes in the Forest oil on canvas 120 x 170cm|
|1911 Chimneys on rooftops oil on canvas 46 x 55 cm|
|1912-13 Nude Model in the Studio oil on burlap 129 x 96cm © 2009 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris|
|1913 Contrast of Forms oil on canvas 100 x 81 cm|
|1913 The Smoker gouache & ink on paper 31 x 24 cm|
|1914 Contrasted Forms oil on canvas 81 x 65cm|
|1918 Contrast of Forms|
|1918 Still Life oil on canvas|
|1918 The Bargeman oil on canvas 49 x 54 cm © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris|
|1918 The Disc|
|1918 The Man with the Pipe 91 x 65 cm|
|1919 The City oil on canvas 230 x 298cm|
|1919 The Railway Crossing oil on canvas|
|1920 Mechanical Elements oil on canvas 92 x 60 cm © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris|