Fernand Léger•A Visionary of modern Life
Joseph Fernand Henri Léger was born on February 4, 1881, the son of a cattle dealer, in Argentan in the department of Orne in Normandy. In 1900, Fernand Léger moved from the provinces to the big city to work as an architectural draftsman, where he studied at the École des Arts Décoratifs in Paris from 1903.
Impressed by the painting of Paul Cézanne, Léger developed an idiosyncratic Cubist style from 1909. Befriended by the artists Henri Matisse and Robert Delaunay, artistically influenced by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, Fernand Léger was one of the most important artists of the 20th century in Europe.
The artist was fascinated by the technology of the big city surrounding him, as well as the dynamics and speed of modern life. In the years around 1920 in his "période mécanique", Léger dissected people, objects and landscapes into cylindrical forms in his paintings, which were strongly influenced by Cubism.
Fernand Léger developed his Cubist-influenced style from simple geometric forms in the artist colony 'La Ruche', before echoes of Surrealism appeared in his later works.Léger was fascinated by modern technology, which he depicted by means of precise, geometrically exact and monumental representations of objects such as screws, cog wheels, crank shafts and pipes. Man was included as a machine-type creature, as was the urban world. He developed a completely new, unmistakable style and was the first artist to use industrial subjects for wall paintings as well as for stage and production designs.
After the end of World War II, Léger returned to France from the United States, where he taught as a professor at Yale University from 1940-1945. Having already experimented with ceramics in the late 1940s, Léger set up a ceramics studio in Biot in 1950. That same year, his first wife Jeanne died. During this time, his interest in large projects on and in buildings and in monumental sculptures, reliefs, and mosaics, most of which were based on his paintings, had increased. In addition, he continued to paint intensively. On February 21, 1952, he married Nadia Khodossevitch, whom he had already met in 1924 through her studies with him in Paris. Also in 1952 Fernand Léger bought the estate 'Gros Tilleul' in Gif-sur-Yvette near Paris and set up his studio there. 1954 was once again a very productive year, in which Léger, in his painting, to a certain extent subjected his earlier work to a revision and updated it. Léger also continued to work on the many major projects he had initiated, such as the designs for the University of Caracas and the São Pauo Opera House. At the São Paulo Biennial in early 1955, he received the Painter's Prize. In the same year, Léger died in his studio in Gif-sur-Yvette.