Fernand Léger
Overview
 
Joseph Fernand Henri Léger (February 4, 1881 – August 17, 1955) was a French painter
Painting
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

, sculptor
Sculpture
Sculpture is three-dimensional artwork created by shaping or combining hard materials—typically stone such as marble—or metal, glass, or wood. Softer materials can also be used, such as clay, textiles, plastics, polymers and softer metals...

, and filmmaker
Film director
A film director is a person who directs the actors and film crew in filmmaking. They control a film's artistic and dramatic nathan roach, while guiding the technical crew and actors.-Responsibilities:...

. In his early works he created a personal form of Cubism which he gradually modified into a more figurative
Figurative art
Figurative art, sometimes written as figurativism, describes artwork—particularly paintings and sculptures—which are clearly derived from real object sources, and are therefore by definition representational.-Definition:...

, populist
Populism
Populism can be defined as an ideology, political philosophy, or type of discourse. Generally, a common theme compares "the people" against "the elite", and urges social and political system changes. It can also be defined as a rhetorical style employed by members of various political or social...

 style. His boldly simplified treatment of modern subject matter has caused him to be regarded as a forerunner of Pop Art
Pop art
Pop art is an art movement that emerged in the mid 1950s in Britain and in the late 1950s in the United States. Pop art challenged tradition by asserting that an artist's use of the mass-produced visual commodities of popular culture is contiguous with the perspective of fine art...

.
Léger was born in Argentan
Argentan
Argentan is a commune, and the seat of two cantons and of an arrondissement in the Orne department in north-western France.Argentan is located NE of Rennes, ENE of the Mont Saint-Michel, SE of Cherbourg, SSE of Caen, SW of Rouen and N of Le Mans....

, Orne
Orne
Orne is a department in the northwest of France, named after the river Orne.- History :Orne is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution, on March 4, 1790. It was created from parts of the former provinces of Normandy and Perche.- Geography :Orne is in the region of...

, Basse-Normandie
Basse-Normandie
Lower Normandy is an administrative region of France. It was created in 1956, when the Normandy region was divided into Lower Normandy and Upper Normandy...

, where his father raised cattle. Fernand Léger initially trained as an architect
Architect
An architect is a person trained in the planning, design and oversight of the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to offer or render services in connection with the design and construction of a building, or group of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the...

 from 1897–1899 before moving in 1900 to Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, where he supported himself as an architectural draftsman.
Discussions
Encyclopedia
Joseph Fernand Henri Léger (February 4, 1881 – August 17, 1955) was a French painter
Painting
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

, sculptor
Sculpture
Sculpture is three-dimensional artwork created by shaping or combining hard materials—typically stone such as marble—or metal, glass, or wood. Softer materials can also be used, such as clay, textiles, plastics, polymers and softer metals...

, and filmmaker
Film director
A film director is a person who directs the actors and film crew in filmmaking. They control a film's artistic and dramatic nathan roach, while guiding the technical crew and actors.-Responsibilities:...

. In his early works he created a personal form of Cubism which he gradually modified into a more figurative
Figurative art
Figurative art, sometimes written as figurativism, describes artwork—particularly paintings and sculptures—which are clearly derived from real object sources, and are therefore by definition representational.-Definition:...

, populist
Populism
Populism can be defined as an ideology, political philosophy, or type of discourse. Generally, a common theme compares "the people" against "the elite", and urges social and political system changes. It can also be defined as a rhetorical style employed by members of various political or social...

 style. His boldly simplified treatment of modern subject matter has caused him to be regarded as a forerunner of Pop Art
Pop art
Pop art is an art movement that emerged in the mid 1950s in Britain and in the late 1950s in the United States. Pop art challenged tradition by asserting that an artist's use of the mass-produced visual commodities of popular culture is contiguous with the perspective of fine art...

.

Biography

Léger was born in Argentan
Argentan
Argentan is a commune, and the seat of two cantons and of an arrondissement in the Orne department in north-western France.Argentan is located NE of Rennes, ENE of the Mont Saint-Michel, SE of Cherbourg, SSE of Caen, SW of Rouen and N of Le Mans....

, Orne
Orne
Orne is a department in the northwest of France, named after the river Orne.- History :Orne is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution, on March 4, 1790. It was created from parts of the former provinces of Normandy and Perche.- Geography :Orne is in the region of...

, Basse-Normandie
Basse-Normandie
Lower Normandy is an administrative region of France. It was created in 1956, when the Normandy region was divided into Lower Normandy and Upper Normandy...

, where his father raised cattle. Fernand Léger initially trained as an architect
Architect
An architect is a person trained in the planning, design and oversight of the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to offer or render services in connection with the design and construction of a building, or group of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the...

 from 1897–1899 before moving in 1900 to Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, where he supported himself as an architectural draftsman. After military service in Versailles,Yvelines in 1902–1903, he enrolled at the School of Decorative Arts; he also applied to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts
École des Beaux-Arts
École des Beaux-Arts refers to a number of influential art schools in France. The most famous is the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, now located on the left bank in Paris, across the Seine from the Louvre, in the 6th arrondissement. The school has a history spanning more than 350 years,...

 but was rejected. He nevertheless attended the Beaux-Arts as a non-enrolled student, spending what he described as "three empty and useless years" studying with Gérôme
Jean-Léon Gérôme
Jean-Léon Gérôme was a French painter and sculptor in the style now known as Academicism. The range of his oeuvre included historical painting, Greek mythology, Orientalism, portraits and other subjects, bringing the Academic painting tradition to an artistic climax.-Life:Jean-Léon Gérôme was born...

 and others, while also studying at the Académie Julian
Académie Julian
The Académie Julian was an art school in Paris, France.Rodolphe Julian established the Académie Julian in 1868 at the Passage des Panoramas, as a private studio school for art students. The Académie Julian not only prepared students to the exams at the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts, but offered...

.
He began to work seriously as a painter only at the age of 25. At this point his work showed the influence of Impressionism
Impressionism
Impressionism was a 19th-century art movement that originated with a group of Paris-based artists whose independent exhibitions brought them to prominence during the 1870s and 1880s...

, as seen in Le Jardin de ma mère (My Mother's Garden) of 1905, one of the few paintings from this period that he did not later destroy. A new emphasis on drawing and geometry appeared in Léger's work after he saw the Cézanne
Paul Cézanne
Paul Cézanne was a French artist and Post-Impressionist painter whose work laid the foundations of the transition from the 19th century conception of artistic endeavour to a new and radically different world of art in the 20th century. Cézanne can be said to form the bridge between late 19th...

 retrospective at the Salon d'Automne
Salon d'Automne
In 1903, the first Salon d'Automne was organized by Georges Rouault, André Derain, Henri Matisse, Angele Delasalle and Albert Marquet as a reaction to the conservative policies of the official Paris Salon...

 in 1907.

In 1909 he moved to Montparnasse
Montparnasse
Montparnasse is an area of Paris, France, on the left bank of the river Seine, centred at the crossroads of the Boulevard du Montparnasse and the Rue de Rennes, between the Rue de Rennes and boulevard Raspail...

 and met such leaders of the avant-garde
Avant-garde
Avant-garde means "advance guard" or "vanguard". The adjective form is used in English to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics....

 as Archipenko, Lipchitz
Jacques Lipchitz
Jacques Lipchitz was a Cubist sculptor.Jacques Lipchitz was born Chaim Jacob Lipchitz, son of a building contractor in Druskininkai, Lithuania, then within the Russian Empire...

, Chagall, and Robert Delaunay
Robert Delaunay
Robert Delaunay was a French artist who, with his wife Sonia Delaunay and others, cofounded the Orphism art movement, noted for its use of strong colours and geometric shapes. His later works were more abstract, reminiscent of Paul Klee...

. His major painting of this period is Nudes in the Forest (1909–10), in which Léger displayed a personal form of Cubism
Cubism
Cubism was a 20th century avant-garde art movement, pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, that revolutionized European painting and sculpture, and inspired related movements in music, literature and architecture...

—his critics called it "Tubism
Tubism
Tubism is a term coined by the art critic Louis Vauxcelles in 1911 to describe the style of French artist Fernand Léger. Meant as derision, the term was inspired by Léger's idiosyncratic version of Cubism, in which he emphasized cylindrical shapes...

" for its emphasis on cylindrical forms—that made no use of the collage
Collage
A collage is a work of formal art, primarily in the visual arts, made from an assemblage of different forms, thus creating a new whole....

 technique pioneered by Braque  and Picasso.

In 1910 he joined with several other artists, including Delaunay
Robert Delaunay
Robert Delaunay was a French artist who, with his wife Sonia Delaunay and others, cofounded the Orphism art movement, noted for its use of strong colours and geometric shapes. His later works were more abstract, reminiscent of Paul Klee...

, Jacques Villon
Jacques Villon
Jacques Villon was a French cubist painter and printmaker.-Early life:Born Gaston Emile Duchamp in Damville, Eure, in the Haute-Normandie region of France, he came from a prosperous and artistically inclined family...

, Henri Le Fauconnier
Henri Le Fauconnier
Henri Victor Gabriel Le Fauconnier was a French cubist painter born in Hesdin. He studied art in Paris at the Academie Julian and later exhibited with the Puteaux Group.He died in Paris....

, Albert Gleizes
Albert Gleizes
Albert Gleizes , was a French painter. Born Albert Léon Gleizes and raised in Paris, he was the son of a fabric designer who ran a large industrial design workshop...

, Francis Picabia
Francis Picabia
Francis Picabia was a French painter, poet, and typographist, associated with both the Dada and Surrealist art movements.- Early life :...

, and Marie Laurencin
Marie Laurencin
Marie Laurencin was a French painter and printmaker. -Biography:Laurencin was born in Paris, where she was raised by her mother and lived much of her life. At 18, she studied porcelain painting in Sèvres...

 to form an offshoot of the Cubist movement, the Puteaux Group—also called the Section d'Or
Section d'Or
The Section d'Or , also known as Groupe de Puteaux or Puteaux Group, was a collective of painters and critics associated with an offshoot of Cubism known as Orphism...

(The Golden Section). Léger was influenced during this time by Italian Futurism
Futurism (art)
Futurism was an artistic and social movement that originated in Italy in the early 20th century. It emphasized and glorified themes associated with contemporary concepts of the future, including speed, technology, youth and violence, and objects such as the car, the airplane and the industrial city...

, and his paintings, from then until 1914, became increasingly abstract
Abstract art
Abstract art uses a visual language of form, color and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world. Western art had been, from the Renaissance up to the middle of the 19th century, underpinned by the logic of perspective and an...

. Their tubular, conical, and cubed forms are laconically rendered in rough patches of primary colors
Primary Colors
Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics is a roman à clef, a work of fiction that purports to describe real life characters and events — namely, Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign in 1992...

 plus green, black and white, as seen in the series of paintings with the title Contrasting Forms.

Léger's experiences in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 had a significant effect on his work. Mobilized in August 1914 for service in the French Army
French Army
The French Army, officially the Armée de Terre , is the land-based and largest component of the French Armed Forces.As of 2010, the army employs 123,100 regulars, 18,350 part-time reservists and 7,700 Legionnaires. All soldiers are professionals, following the suspension of conscription, voted in...

, he spent two years at the front in Argonne
Argonne
Argonne may refer to:*The Forest of Argonne in France*Argonne National Laboratory, a U.S. D.O.E. National Laboratory near Chicago, Illinois*Meuse-Argonne Offensive, also called the Battle of Argonne Forest, a World War I battle*Argonne, Wisconsin, a town, US...

. He produced many sketches of artillery pieces, airplanes, and fellow soldiers while in the trenches, and painted Soldier with a Pipe (1916) while on furlough. In September 1916 he almost died after a mustard gas attack by the German
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

 troops at Verdun
Verdun
Verdun is a city in the Meuse department in Lorraine in north-eastern France. It is a sub-prefecture of the department.Verdun is the biggest city in Meuse, although the capital of the department is the slightly smaller city of Bar-le-Duc.- History :...

. During a period of convalescence
Convalescence
Convalescence is the gradual recovery and of health and strength after illness. It refers to the later stage of an infectious disease or illness when the patient recovers and returns to normal, but may continue to be a source of infection even if feeling better...

 in Villepinte
Villepinte
Villepinte is the name of two communes in France:* Villepinte, Aude, in the Aude département* Villepinte, Seine-Saint-Denis, in the Seine-Saint-Denis département...

  he painted The Card Players (1917), a canvas whose robot-like, monstrous figures reflect the ambivalence of his experience of war. As he explained:
...I was stunned by the sight of the breech of a 75 millimeter in the sunlight. It was the magic of light on the white metal. That's all it took for me to forget the abstract art of 1912–1913. The crudeness, variety, humor, and downright perfection of certain men around me, their precise sense of utilitarian reality and its application in the midst of the life-and-death drama we were in ... made me want to paint in slang with all its color and mobility.
This painting marked the beginning of his "mechanical period", during which the figures and objects he created were characterized by sleekly rendered tubular and machine-like forms. Starting in 1918, he also produced the first paintings in the Disk series, in which disks suggestive of traffic lights figure prominently. In December 1919 he married Jeanne-Augustine Lohy, and in 1920 he met Le Corbusier
Le Corbusier
Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, better known as Le Corbusier , was a Swiss-born French architect, designer, urbanist, writer and painter, famous for being one of the pioneers of what now is called modern architecture. He was born in Switzerland and became a French citizen in 1930...

, who would remain a lifelong friend.
The "mechanical" works Léger painted in the 1920s, in their formal clarity as well as in their subject matter—the mother and child, the female nude, figures in an ordered landscape—are typical of the postwar "return to order
Return to order
The return to order was a European art movement that followed the First World War, rejecting the extreme avant-garde art of the years up to 1918 and taking its inspiration from traditional art instead. The movement was a reaction to the War...

" in the arts, and link him to the tradition of French figurative painting represented by Poussin
Poussin
Poussin refers to:*Charles Jean de la Vallée-Poussin Belgian mathematician*Charles-Louis-Joseph-Xavier de la Vallée-Poussin Belgian geologist and mineralogist, father of Charles Jean*Nicolas Poussin , French painter...

 and Corot
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot was a French landscape painter and printmaker in etching. Corot was the leading painter of the Barbizon school of France in the mid-nineteenth century...

. In his paysages animés (animated landscapes) of 1921, figures and animals exist harmoniously in landscapes made up of streamlined forms. The frontal compositions, firm contours, and smoothly blended colors of these paintings frequently recall the works of Henri Rousseau
Henri Rousseau
Henri Julien Félix Rousseau was a French Post-Impressionist painter in the Naïve or Primitive manner. He was also known as Le Douanier , a humorous description of his occupation as a toll collector...

, an artist Léger greatly admired and whom he had met in 1909.

They also share traits with the work of Le Corbusier and Amédée Ozenfant
Amédée Ozenfant
Amédée Ozenfant was a French cubist painter.He was born into a bourgeois family in Saint-Quentin, Aisne and was educated at Dominican colleges in Saint-Sébastien...

 who together had founded Purism
Purism
Purism was a form of Cubism advocated by the French painter Amédée Ozenfant and the architect Charles-Edouard Jeanneret . Purism rejected the decorative trend of cubism and advocated a return to clear, ordered forms that were expressive of the modern machine age as documented in their 1918 book...

, a style intended as a rational, mathematically based corrective to the impulsiveness of cubism. Combining the classical with the modern, Léger's Nude on a Red Background (1927) depicts a monumental, expressionless woman, machinelike in form and color. His still life compositions from this period are dominated by stable, interlocking rectangular formations in vertical and horizontal orientation. The Siphon of 1924, a still life based on an advertisement in the popular press for the aperitif Campari, represents the high-water mark of the Purist aesthetic in Léger's work. Its balanced composition and fluted shapes suggestive of classical columns are brought together with a quasi-cinematic close-up
Close-up
In filmmaking, television production, still photography and the comic strip medium a close-up tightly frames a person or an object. Close-ups are one of the standard shots used regularly with medium shots and long shots . Close-ups display the most detail, but they do not include the broader scene...

 of a hand holding a bottle.
As an enthusiast of the modern, Léger was greatly attracted to cinema
Film
A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects...

, and for a time he considered giving up painting for filmmaking. In 1923–24 he designed the set for the laboratory scene in Marcel L'Herbier's L'Inhumaine
L'Inhumaine
L'Inhumaine is a 1924 French drama-science fiction film directed by Marcel L'Herbier. It was notable for its experimental techniques and for the collaboration of many leading practitioners in the decorative arts, architecture and music...

(The Inhuman One). In 1924, in collaboration with Dudley Murphy
Dudley Murphy
Dudley Murphy was an American film director. Murphy was born on July 10, 1897 in Winchester, Massachusetts...

, George Antheil
George Antheil
George Antheil was an American avant-garde composer, pianist, author and inventor. A self-described "Bad Boy of Music", his modernist compositions amazed and appalled listeners in Europe and the US during the 1920s with their cacophonous celebration of mechanical devices.Returning permanently to...

, and Man Ray
Man Ray
Man Ray , born Emmanuel Radnitzky, was an American artist who spent most of his career in Paris, France. Perhaps best described simply as a modernist, he was a significant contributor to both the Dada and Surrealist movements, although his ties to each were informal...

, Léger produced and directed the iconic and Futurism
Futurism (art)
Futurism was an artistic and social movement that originated in Italy in the early 20th century. It emphasized and glorified themes associated with contemporary concepts of the future, including speed, technology, youth and violence, and objects such as the car, the airplane and the industrial city...

-influenced film, Ballet Mécanique
Ballet mécanique
Ballet Mécanique was a project by the American composer George Antheil and the filmmaker/artists Fernand Léger and Dudley Murphy. Although the film was intended to use Antheil's score as a soundtrack, the two parts were not brought together until the 1990s. As a composition, Ballet Mécanique is...

(Mechanical Ballet). Neither abstract nor narrative, it is a series of images of a woman's lips and teeth, close-up shots of ordinary objects, and repeated images of human activities and machines in rhythmic movement.

In collaboration with Amédée Ozenfant he established a free school where he taught from 1924, with Alexandra Exter and Marie Laurencin. He produced the first of his "mural paintings", influenced by Le Corbusier's theories, in 1925. Intended to be incorporated into polychrome architecture, they are among his most abstract paintings, featuring flat areas of color that appear to advance or recede.

Starting in 1927, the character of Léger's work gradually changed as organic and irregular forms assumed greater importance. The figural style that emerged in the 1930s is fully displayed in the Two Sisters of 1935, and in several versions of Adam and Eve. With characteristic humor, he portrayed Adam in a striped bathing suit, or sporting a tattoo.

In 1931, Leger visited New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 and decorated Nelson Rockefeller
Nelson Rockefeller
Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller was the 41st Vice President of the United States , serving under President Gerald Ford, and the 49th Governor of New York , as well as serving the Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower administrations in a variety of positions...

's apartment. In 1935, the Museum of Modern Art
Museum of Modern Art
The Museum of Modern Art is an art museum in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, on 53rd Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. It has been important in developing and collecting modernist art, and is often identified as the most influential museum of modern art in the world...

 in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 presented an exhibition of his work.

During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 Léger lived in the United States, where he found inspiration in the novel sight of industrial refuse in the landscape. The shock of juxtaposed natural forms and mechanical elements, the "tons of abandoned machines with flowers cropping up from within, and birds perching on top of them" exemplified what he called the "law of contrast". His enthusiasm for such contrasts resulted in such works as The Tree in the Ladder of 1943–44, and Romantic Landscape of 1946. A major work of 1944, Three Musicians (Museum of Modern Art, New York), reprises a composition of 1930. A folk-like composition reminiscent of Rousseau, it exploits the law of contrasts in its realistic juxtaposition of the three men and their instruments.
Upon his return to France in 1945, he joined the Communist Party
Communist party
A political party described as a Communist party includes those that advocate the application of the social principles of communism through a communist form of government...

. During this period his work became less abstract, and he produced many monumental figure compositions depicting scenes of popular life featuring acrobats, builders, divers, and country outings. Art historian Charlotta Kotik has written that Leger's "determination to depict the common man, as well as to create for him, was a result of socialist theories widespread among the avant-garde both before and after World War II. However, Léger's social conscience was not that of a fierce Marxist, but of a passionate humanist". His varied projects included book illustrations, murals, stained-glass windows, mosaics, polychrome ceramic sculptures, and set and costume designs.

After the death of his wife in 1950, Léger married Nadia Khodossevitch in 1952. In his final years he lectured in Bern, designed mosaics and stained-glass windows for the Central University of Venezuela
Central University of Venezuela
The Central University of Venezuela is a premier public University of Venezuela located in Caracas...

 in Caracas
Caracas
Caracas , officially Santiago de León de Caracas, is the capital and largest city of Venezuela; natives or residents are known as Caraquenians in English . It is located in the northern part of the country, following the contours of the narrow Caracas Valley on the Venezuelan coastal mountain range...

, Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

, and painted Country Outing, The Camper, and the series The Big Parade. In 1954 he began a project for a mosaic for the São Paulo
São Paulo
São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil, the largest city in the southern hemisphere and South America, and the world's seventh largest city by population. The metropolis is anchor to the São Paulo metropolitan area, ranked as the second-most populous metropolitan area in the Americas and among...

 Opera, which he would not live to finish. Fernand Léger died at his home in 1955 and is buried in Gif-sur-Yvette
Gif-sur-Yvette
Gif-sur-Yvette is a commune in the south-western suburbs of Paris, France. It is located from the center of Paris.-Geography:The town is crossed by and named after the Yvette river.The total area is and is green spaces and woods.-Place names:...

, Essonne
Essonne
Essonne is a French department in the region of Île-de-France. It is named after the Essonne River.It was formed on 1 January 1968 when Seine-et-Oise was split into smaller departments.- History :...

.

Legacy

Léger wrote in 1945 that "the object in modern painting must become the main character and overthrow the subject. If, in turn, the human form becomes an object, it can considerably liberate possibilities for the modern artist." As he explained in a 1949 essay, by allowing the object to replace the subject, "we were able to consider the human figure as a plastic value, not as a sentimental value. That is why the human figure has remained willfully inexpressive throughout the evolution of my work". As the first painter to take as his idiom the imagery of the machine age, and to make the objects of consumer society the subjects of his paintings, Léger has been called a progenitor of Pop art
Pop art
Pop art is an art movement that emerged in the mid 1950s in Britain and in the late 1950s in the United States. Pop art challenged tradition by asserting that an artist's use of the mass-produced visual commodities of popular culture is contiguous with the perspective of fine art...

.

He was active as a teacher for many years. Among his pupils were Nadir Afonso
Nadir Afonso
Nadir Afonso, GOSE is a geometric abstractionist painter. Formally trained in architecture, which he practiced early in his career with Le Corbusier and Oscar Niemeyer, Nadir Afonso later studied painting in Paris and became one of the pioneers in Kinetic art, working alongside Victor Vasarely,...

, Robert Colescott
Robert Colescott
Robert H. Colescott, was an American painter. He is known for satirical genre and crowd subjects, often conveying his exuberant, comical, or bitter reflections on being African-American. He studied with Fernand Léger in Paris...

, Charlotte Gilbertson
Charlotte Gilbertson
Charlotte Gilbertson is an American painter and print maker.-Artistic Influences:Charlotte's artistic inspirations are rooted in Greek mythology, the French artist Paul Cézanne, Fernand Léger's modern abstractionism, and neo-Primitivist representations of the people of Papua New Guinea.-Childhood...

, Hananiah Harari
Hananiah Harari
Hananiah Harari was an American painter and illustrator.He was born in Rochester, New York, and studied at the Syracuse University School of Fine Arts. He went to Paris in the 1930s, where he studied with Fernand Léger from 1932–34; he also studied with Marcel Gromaire and André Lhote...

, Asger Jorn
Asger Jorn
Asger Oluf Jorn was a Danish painter, sculptor, ceramic artist, and author. He was a founding member of the avant-garde movement COBRA and the Situationist International...

, Michael Loew
Michael Loew
Michael Loew was an American Abstract Expressionist artist who was born in New York City.In the late 1920s, Loew studied at the Art Students League with the Ashcan School and was a recipient of a Sadie A. May Fellowship which allowed Loew to continue his studies in France...

, Beverly Pepper
Beverly Pepper
Beverly Pepper is a pioneering sculptor known for her monumental works,site specific and land art. She remains independent from any particular art movement.- Early Life and Education :...

, Victor Reinganum
Victor Reinganum
Victor Reinganum was an artist and illustrator, probably best known for his illustrations on book dustjackets, including the first editions of Muriel Spark's The Ballad of Peckham Rye and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie ....

, Marcel Mouly
Marcel Mouly
Marcel Mouly was a French artist who painted in an abstract style.-Early life:Mouly was born in Paris France on February 6, 1918. His Interest in art developed in grade school. A precocious, mischievous child, Mouly was first sent to drawing class as a form of punishment...

, George L. K. Morris and Charlotte Wankel
Charlotte Wankel
Charlotte Wankel was a Norwegian painter regarded as one of the first Norwegian cubist and painters of abstract art.-Biography:...

.

In 1952, a pair of Léger murals was installed in the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations headquarters
United Nations headquarters
The headquarters of the United Nations is a complex in New York City. The complex has served as the official headquarters of the United Nations since its completion in 1952. It is located in the Turtle Bay neighborhood of Manhattan, on spacious grounds overlooking the East River...

 in New York
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

.

In 1960, the Musée Fernand Léger was opened in Biot
Biot, Alpes-Maritimes
Biot is a commune in the Alpes-Maritimes department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in southeastern France. It is located near Antibes, between Cannes and Villeneuve-Loubet on the top of a hill overlooking the Mediterranean....

, Alpes-Maritimes
Alpes-Maritimes
Alpes-Maritimes is a department in the extreme southeast corner of France.- History : was created by Octavian as a Roman military district in 14 BC, and became a full Roman province in the middle of the 1st century with its capital first at Cemenelum and subsequently at Embrun...

,France.

In November 2003, his painting, La femme en rouge et vert sold for $22,407,500 United States dollar
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

s. Sales prices of his sculptures have exceeded 8 million dollars.

In August 2008, one of Léger's paintings owned by Wellesley College's Davis Museum, Mother and Child, was reported missing. It is believed to have disappeared some time between April 9, 2007 and November 19, 2007. A $100,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to the safe return of the painting.

External links

  • Artcyclopedia - Links to Léger's works
  • Artchive - Biography and images of Léger's works
  • Ballet Mecanique - Watch Fernand Léger's Short Film
  • Paintings by Fernand Léger (public domain in Canada)
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