Lagar was born at Ciudad Rodrigo in Spain in 1891. He studied painting at Barcelona and travelled to Paris in 1912. He has his first exhibition in Barcelona in 1916. He eventually settled in Paris and became friendly with the likes of Modigliani, Max Jacob, Derain, Blaise Cendrars and Léger. Modigliani painted his portrait in 1919. He also became friends with the art dealers Guillaume and Zborowski who handled the work of the group and together with Picasso, Derain, Modigliani and Soutine he exhibited at the Café de Montparnasse in 1921. He continued to exhibit all across France for the next few decades.
Lagar’s work was often inspired by the circus and the itinerant lifestyle that came with it. “Distant from the confidence of Matisse, the elegance of Bonnard, yet also far removed from the yokelish charm of primitive or naïve painters.”
During the war Lagar and his wife, the sculptress Hortense Bégué lived a difficult life between Paris, Rouen and later the Midi. Hortense sadly died in 1951 and this led to a dramatic decline in his health. In 1956 he was confined in the mental home of St Anne, Paris where he died ten years later.
Crane Kalman held a retrospective exhibition of his work in 1959 and this was followed by a still larger exhibition at the Galerie de Paris in 1961. His paintings are held in many public collections including that of the Museum of Modern Art in Barcelona and the Musée d’Art Moderne, in Paris.