Fernand Léger was born on 4 February 1881 in Argentan, in the Orne region of France. After several years at school, punctuated by successive dismissals for caricatures by his teachers, he finally began an apprenticeship with an architect from Caen. Having a predisposition for drawing, he settled in Paris in 1900 where he attended the School of Decorative Arts and the Julian Academy. In the Montparnasse district, he entered the Parisian artistic world where he met Robert Delaunay and Marc Chagall in particular.
The cubism then in vogue in the 1910s seduced him, so he joined artists such as Jean Metzinger and Henri Le Fauconnier. On the strength of these encounters and a first contact with the merchant Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, he took part in numerous exhibitions in Paris, Moscow and at the Armory Show in New York in 1913.
The First World War broke out and he was sent to the front. The horror of the war and the fraternity of the soldiers upset him, but nevertheless gave a new impulse to his creativity. Fascinated by technological progress in the fields of industry and transport, Fernand Léger produced a series of works that included mechanical elements. His work was once again interrupted by the war, so the artist left France for New York in 1940. He finally returned five years later with a new inspiration, that of reconstruction. The post-war period will be seen by Fernand Léger as a true “joie de vivre”.
According to Léger, painting is unfortunately an art reserved for a privileged few; he therefore wishes to break with this idea, and make painting an art accessible to all. Thus, he inscribes his painting in architecture in order to make it a popular art visible to all. Moreover, to retranscribe the dynamism of his time, he develops a painting based on contrasts of shapes and colours.
The works of this essential artist have a unique style, and are today in the greatest museums in the world. They are also highly sought after by the public in the art market.