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Léger, Fernand, 1881-1955

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Summary Article: Léger, Fernand from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide
Fernand Léger, French painter who helped to form...
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French painter and designer. He was associated with cubism. From around 1909 he evolved a characteristic style of simplified forms, clear block outlines, and bold colours. Mechanical forms are constant themes in his work, which includes designs for the Swedish Ballet 1921–22, murals, and the abstract film Ballet mécanique/Mechanical Ballet (1924).

Originally trained as an architect, he turned to painting 1903, studying at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, the Académie Julian, and in the Louvre. At first attracted by Impressionism, he came under the cubist influence 1909–14, and during a period of war service took an interest in machine forms which became an important factor in his work from 1917. He made use of such things as railway signal boxes and street signs in ‘mechanized’ composition, though in his later work he returned to human themes – always, however, with a strongly simplified decorative element. He was in the USA 1940–45, but returned to Paris in 1945. In addition to paintings he produced a number of lithographs and book illustrations, and designs for wall decoration, mosaic, and stained glass.

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