Fernand Léger and cinema • Women’s swing

© Fernand Léger National Museum

This exhibition explores in a comprehensive and entirely new way the strong, long-term and fruitful relationship that the painter Fernand Léger (1881-1955) maintained throughout his work with the seventh art.

It was during the First World War, while on vacation in 1916 with his friend Guillaume Apollinaire, that Fernand Leger discovered Charlie Chaplin, which was a real discovery for the artist. Since 1919, Léger’s work has reflected the influence of the cinematographic image on his artistic approach: for example, illustrated books created in collaboration with the poets Blaise Cendrars or Yvan Gaulle play with the vocabulary of cinema, introducing close-ups, typographic studies and kinetic effects. . Back in 1925, Fernand Léger declared: “Cinema is thirty years old, it is young, modern, free and devoid of tradition. this is his strength […]. Cinema personalizes the fragment, frames it, and this is a new realism, the consequences of which can be incalculable. »

As he says this phrase, Fernand Léger had just made his first film, Ballet Mechanical, in 1924, the result of a creative collaboration with Man Ray, Dudley Murphy, and the composer George Antheil. This avant-garde film, which brings to life and alternates everyday objects, characters and geometric figures in fast and jerky montage, is still one of the undisputed masterpieces of experimental cinema. The origin of the film, its influence, the various versions created by the artist, its criticism and its progeny in France and abroad will be presented.

Exhibition: Fernand Léger and cinema

© Fernand Léger / Murphy Dudley, Mechanical Ballet: Kiki de Montparnasse, reflections (detail), photogram, France, Bio
©Adagp, Paris, 2022 / photo courtesy of Light Cone (Paris) Bruce Posner

The exhibition also commemorates Léger’s first contribution to cinema: the poster designs for the film Frontier by Abel Gance or the project for titles and sets for the futuristic laboratory L’Inhumane. This prestigious film by Marcel L’Herbier brings together other greats of the 1920s such as architect Robert Mallet-Stevens, furniture and costume designers Pierre Chareau and Paul Poiret. Other cinematic projects followed in the 1930s until the collective adventure of a pronounced surrealist aesthetic, Dreams Money Can Buy, released in 1947 and directed by artist and director Hans Richter, in which artists also contributed Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst or even Alexander Calder.

Films, paintings, archives, photographs allow us to understand this exciting topic in all its richness and modernity, as well as to emphasize the total interdisciplinary dimension of Fernand Léger’s work.

Based on an original idea and on the basis of a research program carried out by the Fernand Léger National Museum in Biot, the city of Belfort presented from November 6, 2021 to February 6, 2022, in tower 46, the exhibition “Reviving Images”. Fernand Léger in cinema dedicated to the avant-garde period of the 1920s At the Fernand Léger National Museum, the exhibition “Fernand Léger and Cinema”, organized from June 11 to September 19, 2022, will offer a complete panorama of Léger’s connection with the seventh art. These two exhibitions have a common scientific catalog published by Editions de la Rmn – GP.

On the occasion of the exhibition Fernand Léger and cinema, the Fernand Léger National Museum in Biot joins forces with the André Chastel Center to organize an international symposium dedicated to the artist Fernand Léger. This event will take place on June 29 and 30, 2022 in Paris, at the Auditorium Jacqueline Lichtenstein of the National Institute of Art History, then on July 1 and 2 in Biot, at the Fernand Léger National Museum.

Helpful information

Fernand Léger and cinema

June 11 – September 19, 2022

Fernand Léger National Museum
Path of Val-de-Pome
06 410

opening :

daily, except Tuesday from May to October, from 10:00 to 18:00.


  • Prices: 7.50 euros. RR: 6 euros
  • group: 7 € (from 10 people) including permanent collections.
  • free for under 26s (European Union members), disabled people (MDPH card), teachers with Pass Education card and 1st Sunday of the month for everyone

information and booking: www.musee-fernandleger.fr

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