French painter, who influenced cubism, constructivism, and the modern commercial poster and other types of applied art. Born in Argentan, France, he served a two-year architecture apprenticeship in Caen, France, and later studied unofficially under two professors at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, France. Beginning in 1910 he was a prominent exhibitor and member of the Salon des Indépendants. Most of his early pictures were cubist in character, as in Nudes in the Forest. Along with his compatriot Georges Braque and the Spanish painter Pablo Picasso, Léger played an important role in the development and spread of cubism.|
Léger's subsequent work was influenced by his experiences in World War I (1914-1918). He began to use many symbols from the industrial world and attempted to depict his objects and people in machinelike forms. The City is one of his most notable paintings. Léger's work had an important influence on the movements of neoplasticism in the Netherlands and constructivism in the Soviet Union. He made highly successful efforts as a glass painter, as a sculptor, and in creating mosaics, ceramics, and tapestries. The modern commercial poster and other types of applied art were also influenced by his original designs.
In his late paintings, Léger separated color from his figures, which, while they retained their robotlike shapes, were painted in black lines. The color was then boldly laid over areas of the canvas to form a separate composition that tied the entire painting together. The Great Parade, one of his last paintings, is a monumental example of this original style.