Fernand Léger, considered by his peers, critics and the public as one of the greatest figures of modern art, showed a very strong attachment to the French Riviera and the town of Biot during the last years of his life. This love between a man and a territory gave birth to the Fernand Léger Museum.
An eclectic and passionate artist
Nothing predisposed this son of a Norman cow breeder to become one of the greatest painters of his century, except an innate talent for drawing. Fernand Léger, who moved to Paris at the age of 19, settled in La Ruche in 1907 and rubbed shoulders with the greatest painters and artists of his time: Robert Delaunay, Marc Chagall, Blaise Cendrars to name a few. This painter with a very rich artistic universe took an active part in the Cubist movement, then became interested in the modern world by painting cities, objects, and machines. His curiosity also led him to take an interest in literature, performing arts, architecture, and cinema.
The love story that links Fernand Léger to the French Riviera began after the Second World War, the artist regularly visited the Brice studio in Biot to work on polychrome ceramic sculptures. The painter died in 1955 in Gif-sur-Yvette, leaving the world a multitude of works, paintings, sculptures, movies…
The birth of the museum
A few months after his death, Fernand Léger bought a property in Biot, the Mas Saint-André. It was on this horticultural land that Nadia Léger, his widow, and Georges Bauquier, a close collaborator, decided to create a museum dedicated to him, in order to share his work with as many people as possible. The building is designed by the architect André Svetchine, while the gardens are designed by the landscape gardener Henri Fisch. The museum incorporates a huge mosaic, which was originally intended to decorate the Hanover stadium.
The Fernand Léger Museum was inaugurated in 1960. A donation in 1969 brought the museum into the hands of the French state, with a collection of more than three hundred works. The Fernand Léger National Museum continued to develop, with a first extension in 1990 and modernization work in 2008.
The collections retrace the life and work of Fernand Léger, with several themes based on the artist’s major periods:
- De l’impressionnisme au cubisme (From Impressionism to Cubism)
- La Première Guerre mondiale (The First World War)
- Les années 20 : Le monde des objets et Le spectacle (The 1920’s: The world of objects & The show)
- Les années 30, Classicisme et biomorphisme (The 1930’s, Classicism and biomorphism)
- Peinture et architecture (Painting and architecture)
- Les années 40, la période américaine (The 1940’s, the American period)
- Les années 50 : Les constructeurs, Les loisirs et le cirque, L’art mural (The 1950’s: The builders, Leisure & the circus, Mural art)
- La céramique (Ceramic)
Beyond the work of Fernand Léger, the museum offers an impactful look at the evolution of art throughout the first half of the 20th century through the work of a single man.
Designed and created by Henri Fisch, the garden offers visitors a pleasant, cool and shady area. The vast rolling meadow, cypresses, pines and olive trees offer an oasis of greenery and tranquility. The walk offers numerous views of the facades of the buildings and is embellished with several monumental works created according to the works and projects of Fernand Léger.
Numerous exhibitions contribute to the dynamism of the museum. The exhibition around the poem “Liberté” (Liberty) highlights the close friendship between Paul Eluard and Fernand Léger. Draw First allows visitors to enter into the artist’s intimacy, with the presentation of numerous preparatory drawings made as part of his greatest works.
Prepare your visit to the Fernand Léger National Museum in Biot:
- Opening days: open every day except Tuesday, January 1, May 1, and December 25
- Schedule: from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (November to April inclusive), and 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (May to October inclusive)
- Address: 255, chemin du Val de Pôme, 06410 Biot
- Services: Bookstore, Snack Bar / Drink Bar
- Website: https://musees-nationaux-alpesmaritimes.fr/fleger/