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Biography

Fernand Léger was a French painter, sculptor, graphic artist, ceramist and film director. His early work is attributed to cubism. In his works after the Second World War his painterly style changed. From the 1920s onwards he increasingly integrated figurative elements into his paintings. Léger's late work had an influence on the American painters of Pop Art, such as Roy Lichtenstein.

After he had worked for several years (1897-1899 architecture apprenticeship in Caen) as an architectural draftsman, Fernand Léger went to Paris (Montparnasse district) around 1900. After his military service (1902-1903), he attended courses at the École des Arts Décoratifs and the Académie Julian in Paris from 1903 to 1904, but continued to work in an architectural office and as a retoucher of photographs.

After Impressionist beginnings (Le jardin de ma mère - My Mother's Garden, 1905), he joined the loosely organized so-called Puteaux Group, which is ideally situated in the environment of Cubism; of the Cubists themselves, he was influenced above all by Picasso and Georges Braque.

He exhibited his works mainly at the Galerie Kahnweiler, named after Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, an art dealer who "discovered" Fernand Léger personally (1910) and who also contributed in no small measure to making Cubism itself (as an art movement) known and accepted through various exhibitions, especially outside France. In 1908 he opened a studio in the Parisian artists' colony "La Ruche" - together with Henri Laurens, Marc Chagall, Guillaume Apollinaire and others.

After his war service in 1914-1917 and his wounding - he almost died in a German mustard gas attack - his "période mécanique" (mechanical period) began, inspired by the war machine; among other things he shot the experimental film Le ballet mécanique (The Mechanical Ballet) in 1924.

During the Second World War Léger stayed in the United States and did not return to Paris until 1945. Apart from numerous paintings, he created above all monumental art. He was active in the decoration of the UNO building in New York, and he made mosaics and stained glass windows in the churches of Passy (Département Haute-Savoie) and Audincourt (Département Doubs).

At the São Paulo Biennale in early 1955 he received the Painter's Prize. Soon afterwards he died in his newly established studio in Gif-sur-Yvette near Paris. Some of his works were shown posthumously at