Léger originally trained and worked as an architectural designer in Caen. In 1900 he moved to Paris where he studied at the École des Arts Décoratifs from 1903. Léger's first paintings were exhibited at the Salon d'Automne in 1907, thus coinciding with the first major retrospective for Paul Cézanne which undoubtedly made a major impression on Léger. A year later he met Constantin Brancusi, and in the same year Léger destroyed all his previous works and opted for a completely new artistic direction. In 1909 he moved to a studio at “La Ruche”, a studio community in which he met the writers of the Paris avant-garde, such as Apollinaire, Max Jacob and Pierre Reverdy as well as artists, including Archipenko, Henri Laurens, Jacques Lipchitz, Robert Delaunay and Marc Chagall. In 1911 his works were displayed at the Salon des Indépendants, together with Cubist works by Delaunay, Gleizes, Laurencin, Le Fauconnier and Metzinger. In 1913 Léger was represented at the Armory Show in New York and signed a contract with Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler alongside Braque, Derain, Gris and Picasso. During those years Léger exhibited colourful, abstract paintings with dense compositions of geometric shapes such as cubes, cones and cylinders. One hallmark of these highly independent works, which had been influenced by Cubism, was the additional insertion of emphatic contours. The artist aimed to achieve balance between contour, form and colour. In 1914 Léger was conscripted into the army. However, during the last years of the war he was unable to serve due to a severe illness, so that he had to spend long periods of time in hospital. After the war his art was exhibited by Léonce Rosenberg at his Galerie de L’Effort Moderne, and in 1920 Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler returned to Paris from exile and opened an art gallery called Galerie Simon where he collaborated with Léger again. It was not until 1920 the artist's works began to include human bodies as figures, in addition to his mechanical structures. There were two major elements in Léger's artistic and personal development in the 1920s: first of all, the breadth and inspired diversity of his oeuvre, including his intense and active interest in the developments of the contemporary film industry (e.g. Charlie Chaplin); and secondly the free studio and teaching community of many artists of the international avant-garde with whom he collaborated. His own works were exhibited and became known in the US at an early stage. Léger's first solo exhibition was held by Anderson Galleries in New York, followed by Berlin and Moscow. 10 years later, in 1935, Léger was represented in an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. During the war, from 1940 to 1945, Léger moved to the US, first teaching at Yale University and later at the famous Mills College in Oakland. In December 1945, however, the artist returned to Paris where he taught as one of the most famous protagonists of French post-war Modernism at his “Atélier Fernand Léger” together with Nadia Khodossievitch and Georges Bauquier. His school was attended by numerous American students, such as Sam Francis, Kenneth Noland and Elsworth Kelly. Fernand Léger's lifelong affinity to architecture is also reflected in his monumental murals, tapestries, mosaics and glass windows.