Fernand Léger’s art brought together the city’s thrumming with the peculiar lives of the people who live there. An ardent socialist in later life, he used artistic invention to ennoble his proletarian subjects.
Suddenly, and without any break, I found myself on a level with the whole of the French people; my new companions in the Engineer Corps were miners, navvies, workers in metal and wood. Among them I discovered the French people. […] The exuberance, the variety, the humour, the perfection of certain types of men with whom I found myself; […] I found them poets, inventors of everyday poetic images […].