Fernand Léger (1881-1955, French)

Fernand Leger, cats in artFernand Léger (1881-1955) was a French artist whose work is considered the forerunner of pop art. Born in Normandy, his father was a rancher who raised cattle. He was initially interested in architecture, but after his military service (1902-03) he enrolled in the School of Decorative Arts. By 25, his painting was highly influenced by impressionism. After moving to Montparnasse, he met artists such as Chagall, Metzinger, Duchamp, Picabia who all included cats in their works. He developed a style of Cubism termed “Tubism” due to his long cylindrical figures mostly painted in only primary colors.  One of his early works, Woman and Cat, 1921 is a fine example of this style. His experiences in WWI affected his work and were the beginning of his “mechanical” period. Léger was influenced by Henri Rousseau who also included cats in many of his works.  Le Corbusier also played a large role in the development of his work.  In 1931, Léger made his first trip to the United States and in 1935 he had his first exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. And by 1938, he had become so well known that Nelson Rockefeller asked him to decorate his apartment. During WWII, Léger taught at Yale.  After the war, in 1945, Léger returned to France and joined the Communist Party.  During this period his paintings became less abstract. His sketches of women and cats during this time are more realistic representations. His final years were devoted to producing mosaics and stained glass windows. He died at his home in 1955 in Gif-sur-Yvette, Essone.


Fernand Leger, Woman and a Cat, 1921

Woman and a Cat


Fernand Leger Woman and a Cat detail 1921

Woman and a Cat




Fernand Leger Woman and Cat 1955

Woman and Cat


F Leger Woman and Cat sketch


F. Leger Woman and Cat 1946


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Revered and Reviled: A Complete History of the Domestic Cat, cat history, cats


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