Amédée Ozenfant was born on 15 April 1886, in Saint-Quentin, Aisne. Ozenfant studied painting from the age of fourteen at the École Municipale de Dessin Quentin-La Tour before moving to Paris in 1905, where he started working in an architecture studio. Ozenfant also took painting lessons, studying under Charles Cottet at the Académie La Palette, where André Dunoyer de Segonzac, Roger de la Fresnaye and Sonia Delaunay were fellow students. Ozenfant painted numerous symbolist landscapes around this time, many of which were exhibited at his first solo show at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Paris, in 1908. In 1910, Ozenfant exhibited at the Salon d’Automne for the first time.
Between 1906 and 1913, Ozenfant travelled around Europe, visiting the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Russia. In 1915, founded the periodical L’Elan, in which he began to formulate his theories of Purism. Ozenfant would meet Le Corbusier in 1917, and together they subsequently articulated the doctrines of Purism in their book, Après le cubisme (1918); the Galerie Thomas in Paris would host the first Purist exhibition in 1918. The second Purist exhibition was held at Galerie Druet, Paris, in 1921. Ozenfant and Le Corbusier would collaborate on the avant-garde review L’Esprit Nouveau between 1920 and 1925, which culminated in the controversial Pavillon de l’Esprit Nouveau at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs in Paris in 1925. Ozenfant’s painting embodied the spirit of Purism during this period, representing objects with robust simplified forms and flat planes of colour within rigid architectonic frameworks.
Ozenfant had his first solo exhibition at Galerie L.C. Hodebert, Paris, in 1928. In the same year, he published the two-volume L’Art, which explored the sources and direction of contemporary art. In 1930, Ozenfant exhibited with group, Cercle et Carré, and had a solo exhibition at Galerie Jeanne Castel, both in Paris; he also exhibited at the XVII Venice Biennale. In 1932, he founded the Académie Ozenfant. From 1931 to 1938, he worked on a monumental figurative composition in the Purist style, titled Vie (Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris). In 1936, he moved to London where he founded the Ozenfant Academy, and in 1939, he moved to New York where he founded the Ozenfant School of Fine Arts. Ozenfant would teach and lecture widely in the US until 1955, when he returned to France. He had a major solo show at the Arts Club of Chicago in 1940. Whilst in the US, Ozenfant’s style lost its rigidity, developing a brighter palette and biomorphic forms that responded to the diverse natural landscapes and Native American histories that he encountered. Ozenfant continued to paint in France until his death on 4 May 1966, in Cannes.
Ozenfant’s work can be found in the following selected international collections: the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA); the State Hermitage, St. Petersburg; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Kunstmuseum Basel; Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Tate Collection, London.