Fernand Léger was born in Normandie and began painting seriously at the age of 25. He sought to have a proper academic training in the arts but never received accepted an offer to be an enrolled student at Ecole des Beaux-Arts. The work he created in his 20s was strongly influenced by Impressionism.
In 1909 he moved to Montparnasse and began to associate with the avant garde of Paris. Léger changed his style and began using cylindrical forms, in his own personal interpretations of cubism. Léger continued to exchange ideas with other Cubist painters and the Italian Futurists eventually leading his Cubist work to become more abstract.
His art was again changed as a result of his experience in World War I. He took the tubular aspect of his work to the next level making more “mechanical” works. Léger continued to refine his work and moved away from his more tubular work and in the late 1920s began painting more organic forms which were more irregular. Léger continued to be awed by the fruits of the industrial revolution and his paintings studied the dichotomy of forms from nature and the environment and those mechanical elements that were used by farmers in the field and in the factories. Léger constantly challenged himself in his art making. At one point in the 1920s he became more involved with cinema, including designing sets for movies, and he even contemplated becoming a filmmaker. Ultimately worked with Dudley Murphy, George Antheil, and Man Ray and directed and produced Ballet Mécanique (Mechanical Ballet).
Léger’s work helped define modern art during the first half of the twentieth century and he remains an incredibly influential artist to this day.