Cinephile, creator of sets and posters, theoretician, director, producer or even actor, all facets of Fernand Léger's involvement in the cinematographic world are evoked in this exposure.

Exhibition: Fernand Léger and cinema

© Fernand Léger National Museum

This exhibition explores in an exhaustive and completely new way the strong, lasting and fruitful relationships that the painter Fernand Léger (1881-1955) maintained throughout his work with the seventh art.

It was during the First World War, while on leave in 1916 with his friend Guillaume Apollinaire, that Fernand Léger discovered Charlie Chaplin, a real revelation for the painter. From 1919, Léger's works reflect the influence of the cinematographic image on his artistic approach: thus, the illustrated books produced in collaboration with the poets Blaise Cendrars or Yvan Goll play with the vocabulary of cinema by introducing close-ups, typographic research and kinetic effects. As early as 1925, Fernand Léger declared: “Cinema is thirty years old, it is young, modern, free and without tradition. This is its strength […]. The cinema personalizes the fragment, it frames it and it is a new realism whose consequences can be incalculable. »

When he utters this sentence, Fernand Léger has just made, in 1924, his first film Mechanical Ballet, the result of a collective artistic work with Man Ray, Dudley Murphy and the composer George Antheil. This avant-garde film, which animates and alternates, in a rapid and jerky montage, objects of daily life, characters and geometric figures, is still one of the undisputed masterpieces of experimental cinema today. The genesis of the film, its influences, the different versions produced by the artist, its critical reception and its posterity 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, Biot
©Adagp, Paris, 2022 / photo Courtesy Light Cone (Paris) Bruce Posner

The exhibition also evokes Léger's first contributions to the cinema: the poster projects for the film La Roue by Abel Gance, or the credits and scenery project for the futuristic laboratory of L'Inhumane. This prestigious film by Marcel L'Herbier brings together other great creators of the 1920s, such as the architect Robert Mallet-Stevens and the furniture and costume designers Pierre Chareau and Paul Poiret. Other cinematographic projects followed in the 1930s before the collective adventure, strongly marked by surrealist aesthetics, of the film Dreams that money can buy, released in 1947 and directed by the painter and filmmaker Hans Richter, to which the artists also contributed Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst or even Alexander Calder.

Films, paintings, archives, photographs allow us to identify this fascinating subject in all its richness and modernity and to highlight the totally multidisciplinary dimension of Fernand Léger's work.

Based on an original idea and based on the 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 Bringing Images to Life . Fernand Léger in the cinema which focused on the period of the avant-gardes in the 1920s. At the Fernand Léger national museum, the exhibition Fernand Léger and the cinema, organized from June 11 to September 19, 2022, will offer a complete panorama on the relationship of Léger with the seventh art. These two exhibitions share a common scientific catalog, published by Editions de la Rmn – GP.

On the occasion of the Fernand Léger and cinema exhibition, the Fernand Léger National Museum in Biot is joining forces with the André Chastel Center to organize an international symposium around the artist Fernand Léger. This event will take place on June 29 and 30, 2022 in Paris, at the Jacqueline Lichtenstein auditorium of the Institut national d'histoire de l'art, then on July 1 and 2 in Biot, at the Fernand Léger national museum.

Useful information

Fernand Léger and the cinema

11 June - 19 September 2022

Fernand Léger National Museum
Val de Pôme path
06 410

opening :

every day except Tuesday from May to October, from 10 a.m. to 18 p.m.


  • Prices: €7,50. RR: €6
  • group: €7 (from 10 people), including the permanent collections.
  • free for those under 26 (members of the European Union), the disabled public (MDPH card), teachers with the Pass Education card and the 1st Sunday of the month for all

information and reservations: