At the age of twelve he was apprenticed to a wood carver and decorator and then took lessons in decorative sculpture at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. He studied the works of Diderot, Delacroix and Baudelaire. He was also involved with Impressionist art and the work of Gauguin. He settled in Paris in 1907 and in 1922 taught at the academy that he himself founded, published many articles, and also issued books concerning with the theory and act of painting. From 1918 to 1940 he wrote the art column for the Nouvelle Revue Francaise.
He participated in the Salon des Independants starting in 1906 but the first presentation of his works was at the Salon d’ Automne in 1907. Most of these were landscapes with sinewy, vigorous brushstrokes and exceptionally luminous colors, as he was strongly influenced by Fauvism and the work of Cezanne.
He had his first solo exhibition in 1910.
He managed to secure a scholarship fro non-academic painters to the Villa Medicis Libre in Orgeville. There he met Raoul Dufy. In the spring of 1911 his works were exhibited at the Salon des Independants in the renowned room 41, along with those of Archipenko, Gaky, Duchame, Duchamp-Villon, Gleizes, La Fauconier, Metzinger, Picabia, and Jacques that of Delaunay, Jacques Villon and La Fresnaye.
He also participated in the exhibition of the group section d’ or in 1912.
In 1943 he presented all of his work in the city for the first time, and in 1958 his first retrospective exhibition was held at the Musee d’ art Moderne de la ville du Paris.
He also illustrated books, and did large decorative compositions for public buldings in Bordeaux.
The critic Jean Cassou maintained that his writings on painting constitute one of the monuments of French thought. He has been characterized as “the academic of Cubism”.