The French painter, sculptor and film-maker Fernand Léger was born in Argentan, Normandy, France, 133 years ago on February 4th, 1881. Regarded as the forerunner of the Pop Art movement, Léger had been developing his own form of Cubism, which he modified into a figurative style. Originally trained as an architect, he became a student at the School of Decorative Arts (Paris). According to WikiPaintings Léger moved to Montparnasse in 1909 and met avant-garde movement leaders such as Lipchitz and Chagall and later formed the Section D’Or group who produced the Salon des Independants. Whilst in the army during WW1, Léger drew sketches of artillery and military equipment, which inspired his 1920’s “mechanical period,” in which he painted tubular and machine-like forms such as this detail from his 1924 oil on canvas “Mechanical Elements” (Musee National Fernand Léger at Biot, France).
Not just a painter, he also did book illustrations, murals, stained glass windows, mosaics, and ceramic sculptures. Ninety years ago, Léger was responsible for designing this costume for a bird in Jean Barlin’s La Creation du Monde for Rolf de Maré’s 1923 Ballets Suédois (music by Darius Milhaud).
It was not until 1931, that Léger made his first visit to the United States. In 1935, the Museum of Modern Art in New York held an exhibition of his work and three years later Léger was commissioned to decorate Nelson Rockefeller’s apartment.
By 1954, Léger began his ill-fated mosaic art project for the São Paulo Opera, which he could not finish due to his ill-health. He died at home on August 17, 1955 and is buried in Gif-sur-Yvette, Essonne, France.