was born at Argentan, France, on 4 February 1881.
Léger began his career as a an artist by serving an apprenticeship
in architecture in Caen and working as an
architectural draughtsman. In 1900 Léger went to Paris and was
admitted to the École des Arts Décoratifs
in 1903 and also attended the Académie Julian.
The first profound influence on Léger's work came from
whose pictures Léger encountered at the large-scale
exhibition at the 1907 Salon d'Automne.
Léger became friends with
and maintained ties with great artists, including
and leading exponents of
From 1909 Léger himself developed a quirky
style, distinguished by reduction to the simplest basic forms and
formal austerity linked with a pure, sharply contrasting palette by
1913–14. As a painter Fernand Léger exerted an enormous
influence on the development of Cubism, Constructivism and the
modern advertising poster as well as various forms of applied art.
From 1911 until
1912 Léger belonged to the Section d'Or
group. During the first world war Léger came into contact with
modern technology, notably cannon. The superhuman powers and
precise beauty of ordnance enthralled him.
By 1920, influenced
by the persuasive assurance radiated by Purism and the form of retro
and others, Léger had achieved a mechanistic classicism, a precise,
geometrically and harshly definitive monumental rendering of modern objects
such as cog-wheels and screws, with the human figure incorporated as an
equally machine-like being.
also left its mark on Fernand Léger in the 1930s, loosening up his
style and making it more curvilinear. Léger taught at Yale
University and at Mills College in California from 1940 until 1945.
By now his dominant motifs were drawn from the workplace and were
post-Cubist in form, combined with the representational clarity of
died at Gof-sur-Yvette near Paris on 17
accompanying this article is a photograph of Fernand Léger,
Carl Van Vechten