Leonid Berman was born in 1896 in Saint Petersburg in a Jewish family. In 1919, following the Bolshevik Revolution, he and his family moved from Russia to France. From the early twenties, Berman studied with his sister Eugène and with Christian Berard at l’Académie Ranson, Paris. Together with these artists, Berman formed the group known as the Neo-Romanticists, which contrary to Cubism and Futurism insisted on poetic subject matter in painting. The group exhibited together in 1926 at the Durer Gallery. In 1929, Berman exhibited with his sister and Jean Hugo at the Balzac Gallery in New York.

During World War II, Berman was taken prisoner in France and confined to a German work camp. Liberated at the end of the war, he relocated to the US in 1946 where he befriended the Stroud family, to whom he would bequeath half of his possessions, composed in large part of his paintings. Beaches are typical subjects of his work, similar to landscapes from the 18th and 19th centuries rather than impressionistic in style. In 1948 he married the musician Sylvia Marlowe. Leonid Berman, who would gather his memoirs in the book The Three Worlds of Leonid, died in New York in 1976.