Born Melbourne, Australia 1928
Leonard French is perhaps best known in Melbourne for his impressive stained-glass ceiling that graces the hall of the National Gallery of Victoria, commissioned in 1963. His geometrical designs inspired by Byzantine art, tribal and Celtic motifs and informed by religious symbols, are well suited to large scale renditions of significant moments in portentous narratives. Consequently, French has received numerous commissions for paintings, tapestries and stained glass windows throughout Australia.
The work of the early twentieth century French painter Fernand Léger inspired the artist, as might be suggested by The bridge (1983), which depicts an image of mechanical construction, a theme that also greatly engaged Léger.
A widely travelled artist, French undertook independent study throughout Europe, Asia and the United States, and in 1970 was the subject of a major retrospective of his work at the Art Gallery of South Australia. Winner of the Sulman Prize in 1960 and the Blake Prize in 1963 and 1980, French’s work is represented in the National Gallery of Australia, all state galleries, many regional galleries and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.