Leger, Fernand

Leger, Fernand Biography

French painter, who influenced cubism and was deeply influenced by modern industrial technology. Fernand Leger developed "machine art," a style characterized by monumental mechanistic forms in bold colours arranged in highly disciplined compositions.

Born in Argentan, France, Fernand Leger served a two-year architecture apprenticeship in Caen, France, and later studied unofficially under two professors at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, France. In 1908, the year Cubism began, Fernand Leger rented a studio at La Ruche ("The Beehive"), an artists' settlement on the edge of Montparnasse, and there he soon found himself in the centre of several avant-garde tendencies. Eventually, he got to know the painters Robert Delaunay, Marc Chagall, and Chaim Soutine. Beginning in 1910 he was a prominent exhibitor and member of the Salon des Independants. Most of his early oil paintings were cubist in character, as in Nudes in the Forest (1909-1910, Kroller-Muller Museum, Otterlo, Netherlands). Along with his compatriot Georges Braque and the Spanish painter Pablo Picasso, Fernand Leger played an important role in the development and spread of cubism.

Fernand Leger 's subsequent artwork was influenced by his experiences in World War I (1914-1918). He began to use many symbols from the industrial world and attempted to depict his objects and people in machinelike forms. The City (1919 Philadelphia Museum of Art) is one of his most notable oil paintings. In his late oil paintings, Fernand Leger separated color from his figures, which, while they retained their robotlike shapes, were painted in black lines. The color was then boldly laid over areas of the canvas to form a separate composition that tied the entire oil painting together. The Great Parade (1954, Guggenheim Museum, New York City), one of his last oil paintings, is a monumental example of this original style.

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