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Artists Fernand Léger
Fernand Léger Photo

Fernand Léger

French Painter

Movement: Cubism

Born: February 4, 1881 - Argentan, France

Died: August 17, 1955 - Gif-sur-Yvette, France

Fernand Léger Timeline


"I sometimes ask myself what contemporary painting would be like without Cézanne... Cézanne taught me to love forms and volumes; he made me concentrate on drawing. It was then that I felt that drawing must be strict and absolutely unsentimental."
Fernand Léger
"Abstract art came as a complete revelation, and then 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."
Fernand Léger
"Let us gaze wide-eyed at present-day life, which rolls, moves, and overflows alongside us. Let us endeavor to dam it up, canalize it, organize it plastically. A huge task, but feasible. . . . The intensity of the street breaks one's nerves and drives one crazy. . . . Let us organize outer life in our domain: form, color, light."
Fernand Léger
"To be free and yet not to lose touch with reality, that is the drama of that epic figure who is variously called inventor, artist or poet."
Fernand Léger

"Let us organize outer life in our domain: form, color, light."

Fernand Léger Signature


Though Fernand Léger built his reputation as a Cubist, his style varied considerably from decade to decade, fluctuating between figuration and abstraction and showing influence from a wide range of sources. Léger worked in a variety of media including paint, ceramic, film, theater and dance sets, glass, print, and book arts. While his style varied, his work was consistently graphic, favoring primary colors, pattern, and bold form.

Key Ideas

Léger embraced the Cubist notion of fracturing objects into geometric shapes, but retained an interest in depicting the illusion of three-dimensionality. Léger's unique brand of Cubism was also distinguished by his focus on cylindrical form and his use of robot-like human figures that expressed harmony between humans and machines.
Influenced by the chaos of urban spaces and his interest in brilliant, primary color, Léger sought to express the noise, dynamism, and speed of new technology and machinery often creating a sense of movement in his paintings that captured the optimism of the pre-World War I period.
In its embrace of recognizable subject matter and the illusion of three dimensionality interspersed with or often simultaneous with experiments in abstraction and non-representation, Léger's work synchronizes the often competing dualities in much of 20th-century art.
Fernand Léger Photo

Fernand Léger was born in rural Normandy on February 4, 1881 and raised by his family to take up a valuable trade, like his father who was a cattle dealer. While Léger was not encouraged to become an artist, when he showed talent for drawing, he was sent to apprentice with an architect in Caen. After finishing his military training in 1903, he studied in Paris at the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs and Académie Julian. During his studies, he made a living doing architectural drawings and retouching photographs. His paintings during this early period show influence from Impressionism, but the 1907 retrospective of Paul Cézanne at the Salon d'Automne changed the direction of his art.

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Fernand Léger
Interactive chart with Fernand Léger's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart


Claude MonetClaude Monet
Paul CézannePaul Cézanne
Henri MatisseHenri Matisse
Wassily KandinskyWassily Kandinsky
Marc ChagallMarc Chagall
Chaim SoutineChaim Soutine

Personal Contacts

Piet MondrianPiet Mondrian
Le CorbusierLe Corbusier
Guillaume ApollinaireGuillaume Apollinaire
Robert DelaunayRobert Delaunay
Amedee OzenfantAmedee Ozenfant



Influences on Artist
Fernand Léger
Fernand Léger
Years Worked: 1905 - 1955
Influenced by Artist


Hans ArpHans Arp
Roy LichtensteinRoy Lichtenstein
James RosenquistJames Rosenquist
Ellsworth KellyEllsworth Kelly
Frank StellaFrank Stella

Personal Contacts

Alvar AaltoAlvar Aalto
Paul EluardPaul Eluard
Paul RosenbergPaul Rosenberg
Hans RichterHans Richter


Mexican MuralismMexican Muralism
Social RealismSocial Realism
Pop ArtPop Art

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Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

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