With a career spanning over 50 years, Fernand Léger (French, 1881–1955) worked with a multitude of media, such as paint, ceramic, print, large-scale murals, film, theater and dance sets, glass, and book arts. Early in his career, after viewing works by Paul Cézanne (French, 1839–1906), he abandoned his impressionistic style and began working in a style that eventually came to be known as Cubism. At the 1911 Salon des Independents, Léger exhibited paintings that solidified his role as a major Cubist painter. Within Cubism he concerned himself with color, shape, and volume, as in Contrast of Forms (1913), and Exit the Ballets Russes (1914). His artistic career was put on hold when he was recruited by the army in 1914. He returned with a head injury after being gassed at Verdun in 1916. This experience cemented Léger's interest in social issues and justice, and imbued his paintings with more socially-conscious subject matter, as seen in Verdun, The Trench Diggers (1916).

Léger founded the Académie de l’Art Moderne at his studio in 1924 with fellow French Cubist painter Amédée Ozenfant (1886–1966). The Académie lasted until 1939, and during this time he developed Tubism—a style in which human body parts and architectural elements are rendered with three-dimensional shading to look like voluminous tubes and cylinders. Also in 1924, he completed his first film, Ballet Mécanique. Léger relocated to New York to escape World War II, and taught a lecture series at Yale which many artists attended, influencing New York School painters. Léger returned to France in 1946, where he became intensely-involved with the Communist Party. In the 1950s, the series paintings Builders, Campers, and The Big Parade illustrated a concern for the common man, inspired by Léger’s view of electrical workers atop poles. In his effort to have his works seen by the common man he temporarily installed several of the Builders paintings in the canteen at the Renault factory near Paris, where they met mixed reactions. He continued to travel and produce works in various media until his death in 1955.


Born: Argentan, France
Ecole des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, France
Academie Julian, Paris, France
Ranked as one of the three major Cubists
Became a member of the Puteaux group, France
Awarded Grand Prix from the Biennale de Sao Paulo, Brazil
Died: Gif-sur-Yvette, France
The Musee Fernand Leger was inaugurated in Biot, France
Died: in Gif-sur-Yvette, France on August 17th


"Leger: Modern Art and the Metropolis" Philadelpia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA (solo)
Art As A Reflection Of Culture - Flushing Town Hall - Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts, New York City, NY
Politics - Arcade Fine Arts, London (England)
Artistic Relationships: Partners, Mentors, Lovers - Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Charlotte, NC
Société Anonyme: Modernism for America - Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT
Von Kopf bis Fuß - Porträts und Menschenbilder in der Sammlung Würth - Kunsthalle Würth, Schwäbisch Hall
Between the Lines - All Visual Arts, London (England)
Riso / Laughter - Museu da Electricidade, Lisbon
Xxx. Europe Exhibition - Galerie Pankow, Berlin
L'Art en Guerre, France 1938-1947 - De Picasso a Dubuffet - Musée d´Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris - MAM/ARC, Paris
20th Century Masters - Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg
Leger-laurens - Tête-à-tête - Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden
Fourteen Modern Masters - Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, WA
From Picasso to Koons. Artist’s Jewellery - Benaki Museum, Athens
Le Monde Comme Volonte Et Comme Papier Peint - Le Consortium, Dijon
Hereinspaziert! Zirkus und Jahrmarkt von Macke bis Matisse - Städtische Galerie Bietigheim-Bissingen, Bietigheim-Bissingen
Modernism - the renewal of painting 1908-41 - ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus
Sammeln für die Zukunft - Kunst von 1952 bis 2012 / Orangerie - Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe
French Drawings from the Aaronsohn Collection - The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC
Theatre Of The World - Mona - Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, TAS
Selected Works By Gallery Artists - MODERNISM, San Francisco, CA
De Léger a Dubuffet. Signos y gestos del siglo XX - Oriol Galeria d'Art, Barcelona
Art et bicyclette - Espace de l’art concret, Mouans Sartoux
Looking Back / The 6th White Columns Annual - White Columns, New York City, NY
Accrochage - Galerie Boisserée, Cologne
Irene Ludwig - Präsentation anlässlich ihres ersten Todestages - Museum Ludwig, Cologne
Dance Your Life - Centre Pompidou - Musée National d´Art Moderne, Paris
UN PERRO ANDALUZ. - Museo Extremeño e Iberoamericano de Arte Contemporáneo MEIAC, Badajoz
Modern Antiquity: Picasso, de Chirico, Leger, and Picabia in the Presence of Antique - The Getty Center, Los Angeles, CA
Autumn Show - Edouard Malingue Gallery, Hong Kong, SAR
100 Jahre Lehmbrucks Kniende - Paris 1911 - Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg
Construyendo UtopÍas - Galerìa Guillermo de Osma, Madrid
Small Medium Large - Donjon de Vez, Vez
Modern Masters - MODERNISM, San Francisco, CA
Malerei der Klassischen Moderne aus der Sammlung Viktor und Marianne Langen - Langen Foundation, Neuss
Julian and Josie Robertson - Promised Gift - Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland
Haut en Couleurs,céramiques de Fernand Léger, Musée Fernand Léger, Biot, France (solo)
Summer Collection - Sara Hildén Art Museum, Tampere
75/65 Der Sammler, das Unternehmen und seine Kollektion - Museum Würth, Künzelsau
Son filetage mord dans la matière et sa tête tient l'assemblage. - SMP (Sol,Mur,Plafond), Marseille
Modern Times - De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill on Sea (England)
Fernand Leger - Museum voor Schone Kunsten Gent / Museum of Fine Arts Ghent, Gent
Dis-moi, Blaise... - Musée national Picasso, La Guerre et La Paix, Vallauris
Fernand Léger: relações e amizades brasileiras - Pinacoteca do Estado, São Paulo
Fernand Léger - Malingue, Paris
Fernand Léger. El cubista afable - Museo de Cadiz, Cádiz
Fernand Léger, El cubista afable, Fundacion Unicaja, Malaga, Spain (solo)
Fernand Léger, peintures, Fondation Maeght, Saint Paul de Vence, France (solo)
Fernand Léger, choix de dessins de la collection du musée national Fernand Léger, Musée Cantini, Marseille, France (solo)
Fernand Léger, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, Lyon, France (solo)
Fernand Léger, Fondation Joan Miro, Barcelona, Spain (solo)
Fernand Léger, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (solo)
Frnand Léger, 1905-1930. Collection du Centre Georges Pompidou, Musée national d'art moderne, Paris, France (solo)
Ojects of Desire: The Modern Still Life, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Rétrospective, Musée d'art moderne, Villeneuve d'Ascq, France (solo)
La poésie de l'objet 1928-1934, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France (solo)
Rerospective, Msée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, France (solo)
XXV Biennale de Venise, Venice, Italy
Retrospective, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris, France (solo)
Exposition Universelle, Paris, France
Art Institute, Chicago, IL (solo)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (solo)
Galerie Fleichteim, Berlin, Germany
Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs, Arts Décoratifs, Paris, France
Galerie Kahnweiler, Paris, France (solo)

Public Collections

Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX
Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Musée National Fernand Léger, Biot, France
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
The National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy
Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, Spain
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, France
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina
National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, Japan
Reina Sofía National Museum, Madrid, Spain
Tate Gallery, London, UK
Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid, Spain